Excavation Survey

Ancient Culture of the Jungwon Region

Heritage name Historical Site in Tappyeong-ri, Chungju (Supposed Site of Jungwongyeong)
Category Historic site excavation survey
Survey period 2008 ~


The Historic Site in Tappyeong-ri, Chungju is a complex of historical ruins in which the remains of capital cities of three of Korea’s successive ancient kingdoms, Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla, overlap. This site is now believed to have been Jungwongyeong, a cultural hub of Jungwon.

Since 2008, we have been conducting annual academic excavations in the area of Tappyeong-ri as part of an ongoing effort to identify the Jungwon culture. Our excavation team has discovered an old urban civilization formed over several centuries from Baekje’s Hanseong Period to the Unified Silla Period, including the remains of residential facilities such as houses, buildings, and wells; those of production facilities for steel and slag; and canals: all together more than 100 relics were found at the site.

Many of the artifacts excavated from the site were potteries such as tripod-shaped vessels, small bottles, jars, steamers, and goblets, but ironware such as axes, hammers, knives, U-shaped shovels, and sickles were also unearthed together with them. In particular, the discovery of an assortment of extensive steel-related relics at the site, such as scissors, hammers, blast pipes, steel chunks, and slag, indicates that the Tappyeong-ri area had an active steel industry.

Most of the relics span from the 4th century, Baekje’s Hanseong Period, to the 8th century, the Unified Silla Period, shedding light on the identity of the ancient city in Jungwon for interested scholars and members of the general public alike.

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image Distribution of the relics at the excavationsites and the surrounding areas
image Aerial view of Tappyeong-ri
image Historic Site in Tappyeong-ri, 2011 and the remaining structure of a 600-meter-long canal
image Excavation work in 2011
image Baekje Dwelling Site No. 1
image Goguryeo floor heating system
image Silla Dwelling Site No. 4
image Silla well
image Relics unearthed at Tappyeong-ri
image Underground scanning
image On the site

Academic Research of Ancient Tombs in Jungwon

Heritage name Ancient Tombs in Nuam-ri (Historic Site) & Ancient Tombs in Haguam-ri, Chungju
Category Historic site excavation survey
Survey period 2008 ~ 2010


Excavations and thorough surface surveys were conducted on major clusters of ancient tumuli in Jungwon to obtain fundamental information for research into their characteristics and development as well as for systematic preservation of the tombs.

Scholars believe the Ancient Tombs in Nuam-ri (Historic Site) and the Ancient Tombs in Haguam-ri were built for the Silla elite, who advanced into the Jungwon area and founded and ruled Gugwonsogyeong, a small capital city in Gugwon (the name was later changed to Jungwongyeong) in the mid-6th century. From 2008 to 2010, we conducted surveys and GPS measurements of about 700 tombs scattered in fifteen sections of Nuam-ri and Haguam-ri, and excavated eight tombs.

Our excavations revealed seven stone chamber tombs with a tunnel entrance and two stone chamber tombs with a horizontal entrance. The tunnel-type tombs all have an entrance facing south, with their mounds above the ground. To prevent the loss of mound soil, each grave mound has a hole on the top, with between one and four layers of a stone circle at the bottom. Inside the stone chambers, three to four coffin slabs were laid for additional bodies, while inside one grave mound a number of artifacts were found in a casket made of trimmed stone (Nuam-ri Ga – Tomb No. 45).

Most of the artifacts found to date are potteries such as covers, mounted dishes, and short-necked mounted jars, although some metal items, such as gilt bronze earrings, silver belt ornaments and some beads have also been discovered. The relics unearthed from the graves and the tumuli structures have provided us with fascinating impressions of the mid-to-late 6th century Silla culture, which advanced into the Jungwon region.

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image Ancient Tombs in Nuam-ri – Surface survey
image Nuam-ri Ga Tomb No. 50 – Surface survey
image Ancient Tombs in Nuam-ri – Determining the GPS coordinates
image Ancient Tombs in Nuam-ri – Measurement
image Ancient Tombs in Haguam-ri – Aerial view (2009)
image Ancient Tombs in Haguam-ri – After excavation of Tomb No. 25 (2009)
image Ancient Tombs in Haguam-ri – Excavated artifacts (2009)
image Ancient Tombs in Nuam-ri, Chungju and Namhangang River (2010)
image Ancient Tombs in Nuam-ri, Chungju – Hands-on tour (2010)
image Measurement
image Inspection of tomb interior
image Field presentation

Gulsansa Temple Site in Gangneung

Heritage name Gulsansa Temple Site in Gangneung (Historic Site)
Category Historic site excavation survey
Survey period 2010 ~ 2011


Gulsansa Temple Site in Gangneung was founded in 851 (the 13th year of the reign of King Munseong of Silla) by State Preceptor Beobin, the originator and master of Sagulsanmun, one of the nine Zen schools formed in Korea between the late Silla and early Goryeo Period. The temple, which functioned as the main temple of Sagulsanmun, was located in Haksan-ri, Gujeong-myeon of Gangneung. Sagulsanmun was the most visible of the nine Zen schools throughout the Goryeo Period, but it has never been restored since its destruction and now only the site remains. However, a glimpse of its past splendor still shows in a stone stupa (Treasure), which displays the finest masonry of the Unified Silla Period, and in the largest banner pole base (Treasure) in Korea.

Except for a few occasional surveys and inspections of the site, including the dismantlement and restoration of the stone stupa in 1999, the Gulsansa Temple Site had been mostly neglected, undergoing no systematic or academic investigation whatsoever until it was hit by Typhoon Rusa and the accompanying flood in 2002. An emergency inspection was conducted in 2002-04 to assess and restore the damage, and its historical significance was finally recognized, leading to its designation as Historic Site in June 2003.

However, even after designation as a national historic site, it still did not undergo any systematic research or investigation and hence organized maintenance. The Jungwon National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, therefore, planned a project to comprehensively investigate and repair the site in 2010 and carried out a number of excavations from 2010 to 2011. The excavations focused on delineating the boundaries of the temple site and identifying the scope of distribution of the remnant structures. Our investigation estimated that Gulsansa originally covered an area of about 31,500 ㎡, stretching from the stone embankment in the north and Haksan Mountain in the west to the south and east ends of those walls from north and west, respectively. Quite a number of remnant structures are still scattered about the site. In addition to the supposed golden hall and lecture hall sites, the vestiges of ancillary buildings, walls, pavements, and a pond were also identified, as well as a roof tile inscribed with Geumgangsa Temple in Odaesan Mountain, which attracted keen interest from the academic community. Geumgangsa Temple was one of the religious orders established in five temples on Odaesan Mountain in its north, south, east, west, and a center where prayers were offered for the peace and security of the nation. Odaesan’s religious societies are mentioned only in historical records; the roof tile from the Gulsansa Temple Site is the first archaeological artifact associated with these societies.

The two years of excavations at the Gulsansa Temple Site have helped us to plan more precise excavations in the future. The ruins detected under a square cornerstone of one building site hint at the possibility of finding remnants of the original structures of the temple, none of which have been discovered so far.

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image Aerial view of the Gulsansa Temple Site
image Stone Stupa at the Gulsansa Temple Site (Treasure)
image Flagpole Support at the Gulsansa Temple Site (Treasure)
image Stone Buddha at the Gulsansa Temple Site (Gangwon Cultural Heritage Material)
image Supposed Dharma Hall at the Gulsansa Temple Site
image Supposed Site of the Lecture Hall at Gulsansa Temple Site
image Wall ruins of Gulsansa Temple Site
image Pond ruins of Gulsansa Temple Site
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