Discovery and Research of the Historical Knowledge of the Gaya Region

We have planned and conducted various projects comprising investigation, research and publication, utilizing our accumulated historical knowledge and resources on Gaya, in order to meet the demands for research aimed at establishing the historical identity of the Gaya cultural sphere. Our major achievements include:

2003 Stone Caves in China
2004 Wooden Tablets of the Early Korea
2006 Wooden Tablets of the Early Korea – Revised
2006 Prehistoric Culture of the Gyeongsangnam-do Region
2007 Tombs of Gaya
2007 Wooden Tablets from Haman Seongsansanseong Fortress
2008 Fortresses of the Gyeongsangnam-do Region
2008 Early Wooden Ware of Korea
2009 Temple Sites of the Gyeongsangnam-do Region
2009 Secret Codes on Wood: Wooden Tablets (2009)
2009 Reconstruction of Gayans



The Special "Bisabeol" Exhibition (2010~2011)

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The "Bisabeol" Exhibition, organized by Gimhae National Museum, the Changnyeong Museum, and the Daegaya Museum, as well as our institute, introduced the ancient tombs discovered in the Changnyeong region by the Gaya National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage from 2004 to 2008. The exhibition’s title, Bisabeol, is an old name for the Changnyeong region, recorded in the Samguk sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms). The main exhibits of the exhibition were finds from the Ancient Tombs in Songhyeon-dong (Historic Site No. 81), which, along with the Ancient Tombs in Gyo-dong, are one of the most important clusters of elite-class tumuli in Changnyeong.
The tombs attracted considerable attention both at home and abroad due to the array of interesting artifacts and relics found intact, such as a boat-shaped camphor coffin, an assortment of ornaments, harnessry, and battle gear similar to those found in the large-scale Silla tumuli such as Hwangnamdaechong and Cheonmachong, and skeletons attesting to the practice of human sacrifice.

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The “Bisabeol” Exhibition, organized by Gimhae National Museum, the Changnyeong Museum, and the Daegaya Museum, as well as our institute, introduced the ancient tombs discovered in the Changnyeong region by the Gaya National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage from 2004 to 2008. The exhibition’s title, Bisabeol, is an old name for the Changnyeong region, recorded in the Samguk sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms). The main exhibits of the exhibition were finds from the Ancient Tombs in Songhyeon-dong (Historic Site No. 81), which, along with the Ancient Tombs in Gyo-dong, are one of the most important clusters of elite-class tumuli in Changnyeong. The tombs attracted considerable attention both at home and abroad due to the array of interesting artifacts and relics found intact, such as a boat-shaped camphor coffin, an assortment of ornaments, harnessry, and battle gear similar to those found in the large-scale Silla tumuli such as Hwangnamdaechong and Cheonmachong, and skeletons attesting to the practice of human sacrifice.

The centerpiece of the Bisabeol exhibition was “Songhyeon,” a Gaya girl figure reconstructed from a skeleton thought to have been a human sacrifice. With Songhyeon as the heroine of the display, the history and culture of 5th and 6th century Bisabeol was manifested by archaeological findings from Changnyeong, in particular those from the Songhyeondong Ancient Tombs, in terms of three main topics: Bisabeol, The Ruler of Bisabeol, and The People of Bisabeol. More than 200 exhibits were displayed including not only those from Songhyeon-dong Tombs Nos. 6, 7, and 15 and those from the Gyeseong and Ancient Tombs in Gyo-dong, Changnyeong, but also those from Hwangnamdaechong and Geumgwanchong in Gyeongju, to show Bisabeol’s relationship with Seorabeol (or Gyeongju). Among the many exhibits were reconstructed items such as a reconstructed camphor coffin tree, the original of which couldn’t be displayed as it was being treated for preservation; Songhyeon, the reconstructed Gaya human sacrifice; and a reconstructed saddle - a product of the ancient saddle reconstruction project. In addition, photographs of excavation activities at the Gyo-dong and Songhyeon-dong sites during the Japanese colonial era and of the excavated objects taken to Japan were also displayed to remind us of the hardships experienced 100 years ago and the history of Changnyeong buried deep in the forest of our regrets.

The special exhibition, Bisabeol, began in July 2010 at Gimhae National Museum and continued into 2011, touring the Changnyeong Museum and the Daegaya Museum. This exhibition was the successful outcome of a collaborative project - involving local organizations and conducted with the aim of investigating, researching and displaying the region’s history and culture – that has made a significant contribution to the promotion of research on the region’s cultural heritage.

image Horse strap decorations excavated from the Site No.7 in Songhyeon-dong, Changnyeong
image Gold and Silver Ornaments
image Gold Earrings
image Silver Belt
image Long Sword with the Tri-leaf Ring Pommel
image Lacquered Saddle Cover with Silver Ornaments
image Plates with Bent Legs
image The appearance of human skeletons from the ancient burial No. 15 in Songhyeon-dong
image Restoration of human skeletons from the ancient burial No. 15 in Songhyeon-dong

Reconstruction of Gaya (2009)

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The project titled Reconstruction of Gaya was Korea’s first extensive interdisciplinary research project involving both humanists and scientists. The main subjects of the project were the four sets of human sacrifice skeletons discovered in Songhyeon-dong Ancient Tomb No. 15. It was conducted over a period of more than twelve months from July 2008 to November 2009, inviting scholars and experts from various disciplines in order to accomplish a comprehensive investigation of human remains from early period Korea. The areas of study and disciplines involved in this project include: Archaeology (Gaya National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage) Forensic Medicine, Anatomy, Plastic Art (Catholic Institute of Applied Anatomy) Genetics, Chemistry (Division of Conservation Science at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage) Physics (Korea Research Institute of Archaeological Science)

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The project titled Reconstruction of Gaya was Korea’s first extensive interdisciplinary research project involving both humanists and scientists. The main subjects of the project were the four sets of human sacrifice skeletons discovered in Songhyeon-dong Ancient Tomb No. 15. It was conducted over a period of more than twelve months from July 2008 to November 2009, inviting scholars and experts from various disciplines in order to accomplish a comprehensive investigation of human remains from early period Korea. The areas of study and disciplines involved in this project include:Archaeology (Gaya National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage), Forensic Medicine, Anatomy, Plastic Art (Catholic Institute of Applied Anatomy), Genetics, Chemistry (Division of Conservation Science at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage), Physics (Korea Research Institute of Archaeological Science), The results of the research were published in the report titled "The Life and Death of a Sixteen-year-old Girl 1,500 Years Ago".
The research discovered that the four human sacrifices died around the 6th century and were buried in the order of female, male, female, and male from the entrance to the tumulus. They appear to have died from intoxication or asphyxiation and been buried immediately after their death, considering the food remains identified in their stomachs. It seems they had a relatively good diet consisting of staple foods such as rice, barley, beans, and meat, rather than sorghum, millet, or proso millet.
The woman buried near the entrance to the tomb was wearing a gilt bronze earring on the left ear and was identified as having suffered from porotic hyperostosis of the occipital bone, indicating that she had anemia.
Her shin and calf bones display boney reactions, seemingly the result of temporary b