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1,600-year-old wooden shields found in Wolseong

Posted April. 03, 2019 07:29,   

Updated April. 03, 2019 07:29


The Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage revealed Tuesday the relics excavated from Wolseong Palace in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province. As a result of the two-year-long excavation, researchers have discovered a ship model and two wooden shields believed to have been made 1,600 years ago as well as a wooden tablet including a word denoting the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla’s local governor.

One of the two shields was found with a handle, marking the first time that an ancient shield with a handle has been discovered. The one with a handle is 14.4 centimeters in width and 73 centimeters in length, while the other has a width of 26.3 centimeters and a length of 95.9 centimeters. Both shields are decorated with geometric designs such as concentric circles, and painted in red and black. They are also punched at regular intervals, which researchers explained was intended to make shields stronger by putting threads around.

The wooden tablet, which has writing on three sides, reflects the society of the ancient Silla. The Silla Dynasty’s local governor called “Dangju” appears in the writing, marking the second time the word has been found in artifacts since the discovery of the Jeokseong Monument of Silla in Danyang (National Treasure No. 198). The writing, translated as “three bags of rice, a bag of millet, eight bags of beans,” implies the governor’s reporting of an incident related to grain. “This shows that Silla, even before the unification, had used a more complicated form of Chinese numerals,” said Lee Jong-hoon, director-general of the institute.

A moat of Wolseong was a trench made to defend the palace from the invasion of enemies. Though Wolseong faded into history with the collapse of the Silla Dynasty, the moat has remained with its bottom being home to organic matters. As a result, 63 types of seeds and fruits have been found including rice, beans, plums, wild walnuts, wild grapes, cherries, peaches, and fox nuts.

The newly discovered relics are set to be made public at a special exhibition held in the Seoul Baekje Museum from this Friday to June 2.

Won-Mo Yu onemore@donga.com