중앙데일리

1,500-year-old girl is reconstructed

Nov 26,2009
From left: Computer graphics show the process of recreating an image of the ancient girl based on her remains. Right: The fully recreated silicon model of the girl. By Cho Mun-gyu
She was probably 16 years old and had a wide, flat Asian face, a long neck and a slim figure. The girl died 1,500 years ago. But now she’s reborn - well, partially, at least.

At the National Palace Museum of Korea yesterday officials from the Gaya National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage in Korea unveiled the restored model of the girl from the Gaya confederacy era (42-562).

The restoration is the result of two years of interdisciplinary work that brought together experts in archaeology, forensic medicine, anatomy, genetics, chemistry and other fields - a notable step forward in Korean archaeology.

In December 2007, archaeologists discovered the complete remains of the girl and partial remains of three others in a tomb in Changnyeong County, South Gyeongsang. By the time of the discovery, there had already been a grave robbery.

Archaeologists concluded that the four were attendants of the tomb’s owner because they were positioned horizontally. The remains of the owner, however, were missing.

“We rarely find bones in such a good condition from the era because soil in Korea is really rich,” said Lee Seong-jun, a researcher at the institute. “There have been restorations, but most of them were based on the imagination. This case, however, is strictly based on medical science, somatology and statistics.”

Lee added that the discovery was the first time forensic experts - in this case from the National Institute of Scientific Investigation - recovered the remains of an ancient tomb.

The work revealed that the four people - two women and two men - died in the early sixth century, either due to suffocation or poisoning. Their main diet had been rice, barley and beans as well as meat.

The girl’s age was estimated through an examination of her teeth. She apparently spent much time kneeled down and engaged in the repetitious task of cutting something with her teeth, according to the medical evaluation. She was wearing a golden earring and is believed to have been a maid, not a slave.

The restored model of the girl will be on display at the museum in downtown Seoul until this Sunday. From Dec. 1 until 6, it will be showcased at the Changnyeong Museum in Changnyeong.


By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]





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