Half of World"s Remaining Dolmens in Korea

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Half of World"s Remaining Dolmens in Korea

Korea could be dubbed the 'Land of the Dolmen', as about 29,510 dolmens, including 3,160 in North Korea, have been found on the Korean peninsula, out of about 50,000 dolmens throughout the world.
However, a study of Korean dolmens carried out during the Japanese colonial period failed to explain adequately the meaning of the Bronze Age remains.
Seoul National University Museum recently published a 'composite research report on dolmen remains in Korea', after nine months' study by 20 domestic experts, which takes a comprehensive and systematic approach to dolmens in Korea.
The report reveals that Korean dolmens functioned as tombs during the Bronze Era, citing the outcome of radiocarbon dating, although Japanese scholars had argued they were built in the Iron Age.
According to the new report, the origins of the dolmens could go back as far as the 15th century BC, but they were mainly constructed between 300 BC and 1 AD, from the Bronze Age to the early Iron Age.
The researchers defined the dolmen as a 'high-class tomb in the tribal era which was based on bloodlines, ancestor worship and redistribution of wealth, before our ancient country had been established'.
But the report outlined the many unknowns to be resolved concerning dolmens.
Regarding their geographical origins, the report suggested three theories - the 'North Theory' which argues that Korean dolmens were influenced by the Siberian megalithic culture's stone tombs, the 'South Theory' which says these tombs came from Southeast Asia along with bone reburial customs, and the 'Korea Origin Theory' which suggests residents of the Korean peninsula developed this tradition.
Proponents of two different theories concerning the dating of the different kinds of dolmen have been engaged in fierce debate, the report said.
Those who support the dominant theory argue that the 'North Type', which has a wide stone roof set on four stone walls, was created earlier than the 'Stone Cover Type', which features a wide stone cover on an underground stone room, but have been challenged by some scholars who say the 'Stone Cover Type' was the original dolmen.
Park Tae-wook : paktw@joongang.co.kr
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