History of KoreaⅠ. Prehistoric Culture on the Korean peninsula and the Formation of States2. Foundation and Development of Old Joseon

A. Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula Were in a Different Cultural Zone from the Yellow River Civilization

During the 15th century to 10th century B.C., tools made from bronze were introduced in Manchuria and Korea. However, bronze artifacts uncovered in these regions are clearly distinguishable from those of the Yin and Zhou Dynasties, which based their origins on the Yellow River Civilization. The bronze daggers uncovered in Manchuria and the Korean peninsula resemble a mandolin, an ancient musical instrument, and thus have been named‘ mandolin-shaped bronze dagger’. They are clearly distinct in shape from the bronze daggers of China. The bronze daggers of Korea are also more rich in zinc than those of China. The distribution areas of these mandolin-shaped bronze daggers are virtually the same as the distribution of the ‘northern-type’, table-shaped dolmen tombs. Ancient history books of China record the existence of a people clearly diverse from their own in the east where the Chinese Han people lived. Records also show that these people moved to the east around the 25th century B.C. These records depict the activities of the ethnic ancestors of the Korean people.

Cultural Heritage of Korea

Dolmen of Korea That are Registered as World Cultural Heritage

Found in various locales in Korea and Manchuria are relics made of giant rocks that remind us of the stone statues on Easter Island or Stonehenge in England. Most of these dolmen mark the tombs of generals in the Bronze Age. These dolmen burial sites in Ganghwado, Incheon, Gochang in North Jeolla Province, and Hwasun in South Jeolla Province have been designated as World Cultural Heritages by UNESCO.
The fact that these dolmen tombs built in honor of generals are oversized shows that the military wielded great power at the time. During this period, rice cultivation became much more sophisticated. Even in the same tribe, a gap existed between the rich and the poor. There was also a clear chasm between stronger tribes and weaker ones. The tribe that owned sharp-edged weapons made of bronze frequently attacked the weaker tribes, plundered their belongings, and enslaved the people.
Many of the dolmens were small in size and some were presumed to have been used as altars.
The ‘northern-type’dolmen (Eun-yul, Hwanghae Province)
The ‘southern-type’dolmen (Gochang, North Jeolla Province)
Mandolin-shaped bronze dagger and the Chinese bronze dagger