Megalithic portal Graves: Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa
It is very hard to write about the Dolmen sites in Korea. Very little has been identified and researched about them and it doesn not seem to have attracted great tourist attention due to its relatively non-glamorous appeal. However, it is an injustice. This is because the site which consists of hundreds of pre-historic burial grave markers from the Megalithic age has been one of the most important and unique identifiers of ancient human civilization. A dolmen usually consists of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table), although there are also more complex variants. It is a Megalithic Structure found all over the world. However, Korea owns almost forty percent of the world’s dolmen sites and most of them are scattered in the Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa areas. These places were inducted to the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2000.
These places have been dated back to the Seventh century BCE and this practice of creating Dolmens have been argued by archaeologists to have ended around the third century BCE. The Gochang site is called the largest and the most different and varied. They are centered around the village of Maesan and are locally named as the Jungnim-ri dolmens. The Hwasun site which is spread along on the slopes of hills and follow the Jiseokgang river consists of different types of Dolmens. The Hyosan-ri group contains 158 dolmens and the Dasin-ri group, 129.
The final site, Ganghwa is on the namesake Ganghwa island. They are located on the slopes of mountains and are thus higher in elevation than their counterparts. These dolmen are believed to be earliest ones made because the dolmen groups in Bugeun-ri (부근리, in Hajeom-myeon) and Gocheon-ri (고천리, in Naega-myeon) resemble the early dolmen. However, this has not been conclusively proved. It is believed that various ancient traditional rites were performed over these huge stone slabs and thus, the remnants that we see today are the result of great sacrifice and hard work. The museum built at the place gives a detailed description and information about the place.
Trivia: these sites have their own stamps in Korea.
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