New Baekje tombs unearthed in southern Seoul
A new group of more than 10 closely connected stone mound tombs has been unearthed at the Seoul Seokchon-dong Ancient Tombs, a historical site in the capital from early Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C.-A.D. 660). The Seoul Baekje Museum started excavations in October and has since discovered a vast structure about 1,200 square meters consisting of conjoined stone mounds, wooden coffins and an area believed to be a funeral rite facility. The museum hosted a presentation on the new discoveries on Nov. 30 to introduce the relics to the public. Museum officials are speculating that the site could be a royal Baekje tomb.
This is the first time that more than 10 connected stone mounds have been discovered at once. "There are traces that lead to areas beyond the excavated field," said Chong Chi Yong, a research official at the museum. "When extended further, this may be bigger than the third tomb, which is currently the biggest of the Seokchon-dong Ancient Tombs," he said. Such connected tombs are also found in burial sites from Mahan, a kingdom that existed at around the same time as early Baekje and Goguryeo, from where the first king of Baekje came.
The newly found stone mound tombs were built with a clay foundation that had been hardened over flattened ground. Two types of stone tombs have been identified: an early Baekje style, which has an earthen center with linings made from broken rocks, and a Goguryeo style, which is constructed with rocks only.
On the southeast side of the excavated tomb, some 3,000 artifacts have been discovered. They include earthen pots, ironware, roof tiles, golden earrings, glass beads and animal bones. The location where most of the relics were found is believed to be related to Baekje funeral rites.
"The excavation of new stone mound tombs is meaningful as this is an opportunity for the Seokchon-dong Ancient Tombs to regain their status as part of early Baekje's royal sites, along with the Pungnaptoseong and Mongchontoseong fortresses," said an official from the Seoul Baekje Museum.