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More evidence unearthed of Silla-era human sacrifice


An archaeological dig by the Cultural Heritage Administration has found more human remains under the west walls of Wolseong in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, adding to evidence that human sacrifice was practiced in the Silla Kingdom.


More evidence unearthed of Silla-era human sacrifice
Adult female skeleton and earthenware pot found under west walls of Wolseong
[Credit: Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage]



“The west walls of Wolseong drew the public’s attention in 2017 when the remains of two people were found. After that, we have been researching the site mainly to find out civil engineering techniques that were used to build Wolseong. In the process, we found additional bones of a woman and animals,” Park Sung-jin, a researcher at the Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage under the CHA said during an online press conference held on Tuesday via Zoom.


More evidence unearthed of Silla-era human sacrifice
The upper body of a woman‘s remains from the Silla Kingdom, found at the site of the Wolseong
 palace in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province [Credit: Gyeongju National
Research Institute of Cultural Heritage]

Back in 2017, the remains of two people -- a man and a woman -- were found under ancient palace walls. The newly found human bones were located around 50 centimers away from the bones that were found four years ago.


More evidence unearthed of Silla-era human sacrifice
The remains of adult female were discovered just 50 centimeters (1.64 feet) above the remains
 found in 2017 [Credit: Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage]



“It is interpreted as evidence of human sacrifice because the bones are located on the composition layer at the base of the palace wall and not in a tomb,” another researcher at the Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage Kim Heon-seok said. “Before building the palace wall, we presume that a human sacrifice was done with hopes of building solid architecture.”


More evidence unearthed of Silla-era human sacrifice
The remains of the two Silla people in their 50s that were discovered in 2017
[Credit: Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage]

The remains of a 135-centimeter-tall woman, who is estimated to have died in the mid-4th century, were discovered along with the bones of animals such as horses and cows, as well as earthenware. In April, when the remains of the woman were first excavated, the agency thought these were the remains of a young girl due to her height. However, the further study of the remains revealed that she was in fact an adult.


More evidence unearthed of Silla-era human sacrifice
X-ray of pot showing a smaller pot inside [Credit: Gyeongju National
Research Institute of Cultural Heritage]



“Her growth plates were closed,” Kim explained. He added that her height was likely short due to malnutrition and the woman is thought to have been of low social status. Also, a necklace and a bracelet, both made with glass beads, were located close to the bones, which suggests that the woman was wearing them, the agency said.


More evidence unearthed of Silla-era human sacrifice
Excavation of Wolseong walls [Credit: Gyeongju National
Research Institute of Cultural Heritage]

Meanwhile, the agency said that through the recent research it has also found the size of the west side of the palace wall, which is about 40 meters wide and 10 meters high.


Author: Song Seung-hyun | Source: The Korea Herald [September 07, 2021]



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