Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Three Kingdoms of Korea

Three Kingdoms of Korea

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Three Kingdoms of Korea'
Start a new discussion about 'Three Kingdoms of Korea'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refer to the ancient Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

n kingdoms of Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

, Baekje
Baekje
Baekje or Paekche was a kingdom located in southwest Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla....

 and Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

, which dominated the Korean peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

 and parts of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 for much of the 1st millennium
1st millennium
File:1st millennium montage.png|From left, clockwise: Depiction of Jesus, the central figure in Christianity; The Colosseum, a landmark of the once Roman Empire; Gunpowder is invented during the latter part of the millennium, in China; Chess, a new board game, takes on popularity across the globe;...

. The Three Kingdoms period ran from 57 AD until Silla's triumph over Goguryeo in 668, which marked the beginning of the North and South States period (남북국시대) of Unified Silla
Unified Silla
Unified Silla or Later Silla is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, when it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668, unifying the southern portion of the Korean peninsula...

 in the South and Balhae
Balhae
Balhae was a Manchurian kingdom established after the fall of Goguryeo. After Goguryeo's capital and southern territories fell to Unified Silla, Dae Jo-yeong, a Mohe general, whose father was Dae Jung-sang, established Jin , later called Balhae.Balhae occupied southern parts of Manchuria and...

 in the North.

The earlier part of this period, before the three states developed into full-fledged kingdoms, is sometimes called Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea.

Background


The name "Three Kingdoms" was used in the titles of the histories Samguk Sagi
Samguk Sagi
Samguk Sagi is a historical record of the Three Kingdoms of Korea: Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla. The Samguk Sagi is written in Classical Chinese and its compilation was ordered by Goryeo's King Injong Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms) is a historical record of the Three Kingdoms of...

(12th century) and Samguk Yusa
Samguk Yusa
Samguk Yusa, or Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, is a collection of legends, folktales, and historical accounts relating to the Three Kingdoms of Korea , as well as to other periods and states before, during, and after the Three Kingdoms period.The text was written in Classical Chinese, which was...

(13th century), and should not be confused with the earlier Chinese Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

.

The Three Kingdoms were founded after the fall of Gojoseon
Gojoseon
Gojoseon was an ancient Korean kingdom. Go , meaning "ancient," distinguishes it from the later Joseon Dynasty; Joseon, as it is called in contemporaneous writings, is also romanized as Chosŏn....

, and gradually conquered and absorbed various other small states and confederacies. After the fall of Gojoseon, the Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 established four commanderies in present
Liaoning
Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

. Three fell quickly to the Samhan
Samhan
The Samhan period of Korean history comprises confederacies of Mahan, Jinhan, and Byeonhan in central and southern Korean peninsula, during the final century BCE and the early centuries CE....

, and the last was destroyed by Goguryeo in 313.

The nascent precursors of Baekje
Baekje
Baekje or Paekche was a kingdom located in southwest Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla....

 and Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

 expanded within the web of complex chiefdoms during the Proto Three Kingdoms Period, and Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 conquered neighboring Buyeo
Buyeo (state)
Buyeo or Puyŏ , Fuyu in Chinese, was an ancient Korean kingdom located from today's Manchuria to northern North Korea, from around the 2nd century BC to 494. Its remnants were absorbed by the neighboring and brotherhood kingdom of Goguryeo in 494...

, Okjeo
Okjeo
Okjeo was Korean tribal state which arose in the northern Korean peninsula from perhaps 2nd century BCE to 5th century CE.Dong-okjeo occupied roughly the area of the Hamgyŏng provinces of North Korea, and Buk-okjeo occupied the Duman River region.Dong-okjeo was often simply called Okjeo, while...

, Dongye
Dongye
Dongye, which means the Eastern Ye, was a Korean chiefdom which occupied portions of the northeastern Korean peninsula from roughly 3rd-century BCE to around early 5th-century. It bordered Goguryeo and Okjeo to the north, Jinhan to the south, and China's Lelang Commandery to the west...

, and other complex chiefdoms in northern Korea and Manchuria. The three polities made the transition from complex chiefdom to full-fledged state-level societies in the 3rd century.

All three kingdoms shared a similar culture and language. Their original religions appear to have been shamanistic
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

, but they were increasingly influenced by Chinese culture, particularly Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 and Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

. In the 4th century, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 was introduced to the peninsula and spread rapidly, briefly becoming the official religion of all three kingdoms.

Goguryeo



Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 emerged on the north and south banks of the Yalu (Amrok)
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

 River, in the wake of Gojoseon
Gojoseon
Gojoseon was an ancient Korean kingdom. Go , meaning "ancient," distinguishes it from the later Joseon Dynasty; Joseon, as it is called in contemporaneous writings, is also romanized as Chosŏn....

's fall. The first mention of Goguryeo in Chinese records dates from 75 BCE in reference to a commandery established by the Chinese Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, although even earlier mentions of "Guri" may be of the same state. Evidence indicates Goguryeo was the most advanced, and likely the first established, of the three kingdoms.

Goguryeo, eventually the largest of the three kingdoms, had several capitals in alternation: two capitals in the upper Yalu area, and later Nangrang (樂浪: Lelang in Chinese) which is now part of Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

. At the beginning, the state was located on the border with China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

; it gradually expanded into Manchuria and destroyed the Chinese Lelang commandery
Lelang Commandery
Lelang was one of the Chinese commanderies which was established after the fall of Gojoseon in 108 BC until Goguryeo conquered it in 313. Lelang Commandery was located in the northern Korean peninsula with the administrative center near modern P'yongyang....

 in 313. The cultural influence of the Chinese continued as Buddhism was adopted as the official religion in 372.

The Empire was at its zenith in the fifth century during the rule of King Gwanggaeto the Great and his son King Jangsu
Jangsu of Goguryeo
Emperor Jangsu of Goguryeo was the 20th monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He was born in 394, the eldest son of King Gwanggaeto the Great...

 in their campaign against China in Manchuria. For the next century or so, Goguryeo was the dominant empire in the Korean peninsula. Goguryeo eventually occupied the Liaodong Plains in Manchuria and today's Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 area. Goguryeo controlled not only Koreans but also Chinese and other Tungusic tribes in Manchuria and North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

. After the establishment of the Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

 and later the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 in China, the empire continued to suffer from Chinese attacks until conquered by an allied Silla–Tang forces in 668.

Baekje




Baekje
Baekje
Baekje or Paekche was a kingdom located in southwest Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla....

 was founded as a member of the Mahan confederacy
Mahan confederacy
Mahan was a loose confederacy of statelets that existed from around the 1st century BCE to 3rd century CE in the southern Korean peninsula in the Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces. Arising out of the confluence of Gojoseon migration and the Jin state federation, Mahan was one of the Samhan , along...

. Two sons of Goguryeo's founder are recorded to have fled a succession conflict, to establish Baekje around the present Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 area.

Baekje absorbed or conquered other Mahan chiefdoms and, at its peak in the 4th century, controlled most of the western Korean peninsula. Under attack from Goguryeo, the capital moved south to Ungjin (present-day Gongju
Gongju
Gongju , also spelt Kongju, is a city in South Chungcheong province, South Korea. It is located at .- History :Gongju was formerly named Ungjin and was the capital of Baekje from AD 475 to 538. In this period, Baekje was under threat from Goguryeo...

) and later further south to Sabi
Sabi
Sabi was the capital of the Korean kingdom of Baekje from 538 until Baekje's fall to Silla in 660. The site of Sabi is located in modern-day Buyeo County, South Chungcheong Province, in South Korea....

 (present-day Buyeo
Buyeo County
Buyeo County is a county in South Chungcheong Province, South Korea. Buyeo-eup, the county's capital, was the site of the capital of the Baekje kingdom from AD 538 to 660, when it was called Sabi....

).

Baekje exerted its political influence on Tamna
Tamna
The kingdom of Tamna or Tamna guk ruled Jeju Island from ancient times until it was absorbed by the Korean Joseon Dynasty in 1404. This kingdom is also sometimes known as Tangna , Seomna , and Tammora . All of these names mean "island country."There is no historical record of the founding or early...

, a kingdom of Jeju Island
Jeju-do
Jeju-do is the only special autonomous province of South Korea, situated on and coterminous with the country's largest island. Jeju-do lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of Jeollanam-do Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946...

. Baekje maintained a close relationship with and extracted tribute from Tamna. Baekje's religious and artistic culture influenced Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 and Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

.

Buddhism was introduced to Baekje in 384 from Goguryeo, which Baekje welcomed. Later, Baekje played a fundamental role in transmitting cultural developments, including Chinese characters and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, into ancient Japan. Baekje was conquered by an alliance of Silla and Tang forces in 660.

Silla



According to Korean records, in 57 BCE, Seorabeol (or Saro, later Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

) in the southeast of the peninsula unified and expanded the confederation of city-states known as Jinhan
Jinhan confederacy
Jinhan was a loose confederacy of chiefdoms that existed from around the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD in the southern Korean peninsula, to the east of the Nakdong River valley, Gyeongsang Province. Jinhan was one of the Samhan , along with Byeonhan and Mahan...

. Although Samguk Sagi
Samguk Sagi
Samguk Sagi is a historical record of the Three Kingdoms of Korea: Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla. The Samguk Sagi is written in Classical Chinese and its compilation was ordered by Goryeo's King Injong Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms) is a historical record of the Three Kingdoms of...

records that Silla was the earliest-founded of the three kingdoms, other written and archaeological records indicate that Silla was likely the last of the three to establish a centralized government.

Renamed from Saro to Silla in 503, the kingdom annexed the Gaya confederacy
Gaya confederacy
Gaya was a confederacy of territorial polities in the Nakdong River basin of southern Korea, growing out of the Byeonhan confederacy of the Samhan period.The traditional period used by historians for Gaya chronology is 42–532 CE...

 (which in turn had absorbed Byeonhan
Byeonhan confederacy
Byeonhan, also known as Byeonjin, was a loose confederacy of chiefdoms that existed from around the beginning of the Common Era to the 4th century in the southern Korean peninsula...

 earlier) in the first half of the 6th Century. Goguryeo and Baekje responded by forming an alliance. To cope with invasions from Goguryeo and Baekje, Silla deepened its relations with the Tang Dynasty, with her newly gained access to the Yellow Sea making direct contact with the Tang possible. After the conquest of Goguryeo and Baekje with her Tang allies, the Silla kingdom drove the Tang forces out of the peninsula and occupied the lands south of Pyongyang.

The capital of Silla was Seorabeol (now Gyeongju
Gyeongju
Gyeongju is a coastal city in the far southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang province in South Korea. It is the second largest city by area in the province after Andong, covering with a population of 269,343 people according to the 2008 census. Gyeongju is southeast of Seoul, and east of the...

; "Seorabeol", "서라벌" in Hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

 or "徐羅伐" in Hanja
Hanja
Hanja is the Korean name for the Chinese characters hanzi. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation...

, is hypothesized to have been the ancient Korean term for "capital"). Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 became the official religion in 528. The remaining material culture from the kingdom of Silla including unique gold metalwork shows influence from the northern nomadic steppes, differentiating it from the culture of Goguryeo and Baekje where Chinese influence was more pronounced.

Other states


Other smaller states existed in Korea before and during this period:
  • Gaya confederacy
    Gaya confederacy
    Gaya was a confederacy of territorial polities in the Nakdong River basin of southern Korea, growing out of the Byeonhan confederacy of the Samhan period.The traditional period used by historians for Gaya chronology is 42–532 CE...

    , until annexed by Silla
  • Dongye
    Dongye
    Dongye, which means the Eastern Ye, was a Korean chiefdom which occupied portions of the northeastern Korean peninsula from roughly 3rd-century BCE to around early 5th-century. It bordered Goguryeo and Okjeo to the north, Jinhan to the south, and China's Lelang Commandery to the west...

    , Okjeo
    Okjeo
    Okjeo was Korean tribal state which arose in the northern Korean peninsula from perhaps 2nd century BCE to 5th century CE.Dong-okjeo occupied roughly the area of the Hamgyŏng provinces of North Korea, and Buk-okjeo occupied the Duman River region.Dong-okjeo was often simply called Okjeo, while...

    , and Buyeo
    Buyeo (state)
    Buyeo or Puyŏ , Fuyu in Chinese, was an ancient Korean kingdom located from today's Manchuria to northern North Korea, from around the 2nd century BC to 494. Its remnants were absorbed by the neighboring and brotherhood kingdom of Goguryeo in 494...

    , all three conquered by Goguryeo
  • Usan
    Usan-guk
    Usan-guk, or the State of Usan, occupied Ulleung-do and the adjacent islands during the Korean Three Kingdoms period. According to the Samguk Sagi, it was conquered by the Silla general Kim Isabu in 512. He is said to have used wooden lions or tigers to intimidate the residents into surrendering...

     (Ulleung-do) tributary of Silla
  • Tamna
    Tamna
    The kingdom of Tamna or Tamna guk ruled Jeju Island from ancient times until it was absorbed by the Korean Joseon Dynasty in 1404. This kingdom is also sometimes known as Tangna , Seomna , and Tammora . All of these names mean "island country."There is no historical record of the founding or early...

     (Jeju-do
    Jeju-do
    Jeju-do is the only special autonomous province of South Korea, situated on and coterminous with the country's largest island. Jeju-do lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of Jeollanam-do Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946...

    ) tributary of Baekje


End of the Three Kingdoms Period


Allied with China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 under the Tang dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, Silla conquered Goguryeo in 668, after having already conquered Gaya in 562 and Baekje in 660, thus ushering in the North-South states period with Later Silla
Unified Silla
Unified Silla or Later Silla is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, when it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668, unifying the southern portion of the Korean peninsula...

 to the south and Balhae
Balhae
Balhae was a Manchurian kingdom established after the fall of Goguryeo. After Goguryeo's capital and southern territories fell to Unified Silla, Dae Jo-yeong, a Mohe general, whose father was Dae Jung-sang, established Jin , later called Balhae.Balhae occupied southern parts of Manchuria and...

 to the north, when Dae Jo-young, a former Goguryeo military officer, revolted Tang Chinese rule and began reconquering former Goguryeo territories.

Archaeological perspectives on the Three Kingdoms of Korea



Archaeologists use theoretical
Archaeological theory
Archaeological theory refers to the various intellectual frameworks through which archaeologists interpret archaeological data. There is no one singular theory of archaeology, but many, with different archaeologists believing that information should be interpreted in different ways...

 guidelines derived from anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

, analogy, and ethnohistory
Ethnohistory
Ethnohistory is the study of ethnographic cultures and indigenous customs by examining historical records. It is also the study of the history of various ethnic groups that may or may not exist today....

 to the concept of what defines a state-level society
Sociocultural evolution
Sociocultural evolution is an umbrella term for theories of cultural evolution and social evolution, describing how cultures and societies have changed over time...

. This is different from the concept of state (guk or Sino
Sino
Sino may refer to:*Sino-, a prefix used to refer to China*Sino Group, a property development corporation based in Hong Kong** Sino Land, a subsidiary and listing company of Sino Group*Sino Centre, a shopping centre in Mong Kok, Hong Kong...

 ko: 國, walled-town state, etc) in the discipline of Korean History. In anthropological archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 the presence of urban centres (especially capitals), monumental architecture, craft specialization and standardization of production, ostentatious burials, writing or recording systems
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

, bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

, demonstrated political control of geographical areas that are usually larger in area than a single river valley, etc make up some of these correlates that define states.
Among the archaeology sites dating to the Three Kingdoms of Korea, hundreds of cemeteries with thousands of burial
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

s have been excavated. The vast majority of archaeological evidence of the Three Kingdoms Period of Korea consists of burials, but since the 1990s there has been a great increase in the archaeological excavations of ancient industrial production sites, roads, palace grounds and elite
Elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

 precincts, ceremonial sites, commoner households, and fortresses due to the boom in salvage archaeology in South Korea.

Rhee and Choi hypothesize that a mix of internal developments and external factors lead to the emergence of state-level societies in Korea. A number of archaeologists including Kang demonstrate the role of frequent war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare in the development of peninsular states.

Formation of Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje States (c. 0 – 300/400 CE)

Some individual correlates of complex societies are found in the chiefdoms of Korea that date back to c. 700 BCE (e.g. see Igeum-dong, Songguk-ri
Songguk-ri
Songguk-ri is a Middle and Late Mumun period archaeological site in Buyeo-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea. Songguk-ri is a settlement and burial site that is important in the study of Korean prehistory. It is registered as Historical Site No. 249...

). However, the best evidence from the archaeological record in Korea indicates that states formed between 300 BCE and 300/400 CE. However, archaeologists are not prepared to suggest that this means there were states in the BCE era. The correlates of state-level societies did not develop as a package, but rather in spurts and starts and at various points in time. It was some time between 100–400 CE that individual correlates of state societies had developed to a sufficient number and scale that state-level societies can be confidently identified using archaeological data.

Evidence from burials

Lee Sung-joo analyzed variability
Variability
The term variability, "the state or characteristic of being variable", describes how spread out or closely clustered a set of data is. This may be applied to many different subjects:*Climate variability...

 in many of the elite
Elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

 cemeteries of the territories of Silla and Gaya polities and found that as late as the 2nd century there was intra-cemetery variation in the distribution of prestige grave goods
Grave goods
Grave goods, in archaeology and anthropology, are the items buried along with the body.They are usually personal possessions, supplies to smooth the deceased's journey into the afterlife or offerings to the gods. Grave goods are a type of votive deposit...

, but there was an absence of hierarchical differences on a regional scale between cemeteries. Near the end of the 2nd century CE, interior space in elite burials increased in size, and wooden chamber burial construction techniques were increasingly used by elites. In the 3rd century, a pattern developed in which single elite cemeteries that were the highest in status compared to all the other cemeteries were built. Such cemeteries were established at high elevations along ridgelines and on hilltops. Furthermore, the uppermost elite were buried in large-scale tombs established at the highest point of a given cemetery. Cemeteries with 'uppermost elite' mounded burials such as Okseong-ri, Yangdong-ri, Daeseong-dong, and Bokcheon-dong display this pattern.

Evidence from factory-scale production of pottery and roof-tiles

Lee Sung-joo proposed that, in addition to the development of regional political hierarchies as seen through analysis of burials, variation in types of pottery production gradually disappeared and full-time specialization was the only recognizable kind of pottery production from the end of the 4th century A.D. At the same time the production centres for pottery became highly centralized and vessels became standardized.

Centralisation and elite control of production is demonstrated by the results of the archaeological excavations at Songok-dong and Mulcheon-ni in Gyeongju
Gyeongju
Gyeongju is a coastal city in the far southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang province in South Korea. It is the second largest city by area in the province after Andong, covering with a population of 269,343 people according to the 2008 census. Gyeongju is southeast of Seoul, and east of the...

. These sites are part of what was an interconnected and sprawling ancient industrial complex on the northeast outskirts of the Silla capital. Songok-dong and Mulcheon-ri are an example of the large-scale of specialized factory
Factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

-style production in the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla Periods. The site was excavated in the late 1990s, and archaeologists found the remains of many production features such as pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 kiln
Kiln
A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, or oven, in which a controlled temperature regime is produced. Uses include the hardening, burning or drying of materials...

s, roof-tile kilns, charcoal
Charcoal
Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

 kilns, as well as the remains of buildings and workshop
Workshop
A workshop is a room or building which provides both the area and tools that may be required for the manufacture or repair of manufactured goods...

s associated with production.

Capital cities, elite precincts, and monumental architecture

Since 1976, continuing archaeological excavations concentrated in the southeastern part of modern Gyeongju
Gyeongju
Gyeongju is a coastal city in the far southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang province in South Korea. It is the second largest city by area in the province after Andong, covering with a population of 269,343 people according to the 2008 census. Gyeongju is southeast of Seoul, and east of the...

 have revealed parts of the so-called Silla Wanggyeong (Silla royal capital). A number of excavations over the years have revealed temples such as Hwangnyongsa
Hwangnyongsa
Hwangnyongsa, or Hwangnyong Temple, is the name of a former Buddhist temple in the city of Gyeongju, South Korea. Built in the 6th century, it was the center of state-sponsored Buddhism during the Silla and Unified Silla eras...

, Bunhwangsa, Heungryunsa, and 30 other sites. Signs of Baekje's capitals have also been excavated at the Mongchon Fortress and the Pungnap Fortress
Pungnap Toseong
Pungnaptoseong is a flat earthen wall built at the edge of the Han River, with a circumference of 3.5km. It is located in modern-day Pungnap-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, and previously was included in the neighboring city of Gwangju. It has a long oval shape, spreading to north and south, and leaning...

 in Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

.

See also

  • Heavenly Horse Tomb
    Heavenly Horse Tomb
    Cheonmachong, formerly Tomb No.155, is a tumulus located in Gyeongju, South Korea. The tomb was excavated in 1973 and is believed to date probably from the fifth century but perhaps from the sixth century CE...

  • History of Korea
    History of Korea
    The Korean Peninsula was inhabited from the Lower Paleolithic about 400,000-500,000 years ago. Archeological evidence indicates that the presence of modern humans in northeast Asia dates to 39,000 years ago. The earliest known Korean pottery dates to around 8000 BC, and the Neolithic period began...

  • List of Korean monarchs
  • Korean pottery and porcelain
  • Korean Pottery: Categorized by Periods