At various times in history Korea was divided into smaller kingdoms, one of which was Silla. The dynasty can be broken down into Silla (57 BCE – 667 CE) and Unified Silla (668 CE – 935 CE) after it had grown by conquering neighboring kingdoms. Silla was a kingdom of wealth and gold, trade and cultural exchange. It had a ‘golden age’ both literally and figuratively, and fortunately for us they left many things behind for us to marvel at, as well as the tombs themselves.
The tumuli, or tombs, in the Gyeongju area number about 200 with 23 being easily accessible in the Daereungwon Tumuli Complex.
The whole complex is beautiful, with impeccable landscaping and maintenance.
We visited in early Fall, although many people suggest Spring to be the best season.
The mounds come in all sizes and were made for Kings, their families and perhaps favored court officials.
Some of the occupants are known while many are unknown. The most famous of the tombs perhaps is the Cheonmachong Tomb, also known as the ‘tomb of the heavenly horse’. It was excavated in 1973 and over 11,000 artifacts were discovered. Usually it is open to the public, but it was undergoing extensive restoration while we were there so we were unable to see it behind the fence and scaffolding. Many of the tomb treasures from all the excavated tombs are on display at the Gyeongju branch of the National Museum of Korea.
More than 50,000objects were discovered in Hwangnamdaechong alone.
As with many sites in Korea there has been restoration and repair from damage from occupation and war. This has sometime left pieces left over, or pieces waiting to be reconstructed. At a few sites we saw pieces of masonry that were collected together in one place….just waiting.
This map helps to understand the positions of the tumuli in relationship to each other.
By the time we had finished walking around dusk was falling and the atmosphere reminded me of the descriptions of the barrows in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Needless to say we didn’t hang around to see if any barrow wrights would appear.
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth Marzec.