Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
Location and site
The prehistoric cemeteries at Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa contain many hundreds of examples of dolmens – tombs from the 1st millennium BC constructed of large stone slabs. They form part of the Megalithic culture, found in many parts of the world, but nowhere in such a concentrated form.
The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen sites contain the highest density and greatest variety of dolmens in Korea, and indeed of any country. Dolmens are megalithic funerary monuments, which figured prominently in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures across the world during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. Usually consisting of two or more undressed stone slabs supporting a huge capstone, it is generally accepted that they were simply burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of deceased worthies. They are usually found in cemeteries on elevated sites and are of great archaeological value for the information that they provide about the prehistoric people who built them and their social and political systems, beliefs and rituals, and arts and ceremonies.
The property encompasses three distinct areas.
- The Gochang Dolmen Site (8.38 ha) features the largest and most diversified group, and is centered in the village of Maesan, along the southern foot of a group of hills running east/west. Over 440 dolmens of various types have been recorded in this location.
- The Hwasun Dolmen Site (31 ha) is situated on the slopes of a low range of hills, along the Jiseokgang River. There are more than 500 dolmens in this group. In a number of cases, the stone outcrops from which the stones making up these dolmens have been identified.
- The Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (12.27 ha) are on the offshore island of Ganghwa, on mountain slopes. They tend to be situated at a higher level than the dolmens of the other sites and are stylistically early, in particular those at Bugeun-ri and Gocheon-ri.
The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites preserve important evidence of how stones were quarried, transported and raised and of how dolmen types changed over time in northeast Asia.
A significant number of dolmens are distributed in each of the three areas, fully showing the development history of the megalithic culture with numerous examples of various style and type. The existence of a quarry near the site is especially important in providing references to the origins, nature and developmental history of the dolmens, as well as contributing to the integrity of the property. These components are all included within the boundaries of the inscribed property.
Criterion (iii): The global prehistoric technological and social phenomenon that resulted in the appearance in the 2nd and 3rd millennia BCE of funerary and ritual monuments constructed of large stones (the “”Megalithic Culture””) is nowhere more vividly illustrated than in the dolmen cemeteries of Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa.
The dolmens are the demonstration of a megalithic culture, which is present in the entire world, particularly during the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age in the II and I millenniums before J.C. This use of big stones originates from the emergence of new techniques and is represented by alignments and ritual circles such as those of Stonehenge and the Orkney in United Kingdom, death chambers such as those of Brugh na Bóinne in Ireland as well as stone circles and sepulchers in occidental Africa.
The megaliths are a significant characteristic of the East Asia prehistory during the I millennium before J.C. We can mainly find them in the west of China (Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu) and in the coastal regions of the Yellow Sea basin (Shandong peninsula, northwest of Kyushu).
It would seem that the dolmens appeared in the Korean peninsula during the Bronze Age. The Chungnim-ri group, in Koch’ang, dates from around the VII century before J.C., according to the archeological data. The construction of the dolmens was interrupted in that place during the III century before J.C. The Hwasun megaliths are a little more recent and dates back to the VI and V centuries before J.C. We do not have enough information to date the Kanghwa group but it seems that it came before.
Mr. KeySang Yoo
245, Jungang-ro, Gochang-eup
Gochang, Republic of Korea