The prehistoric cemeteries at Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa contain many hundreds of examples of dolmens - tombs from the 1st millennium BC constructed of large stone slabs. They form part of the Megalithic culture, found in many parts of the world, but nowhere in such a concentrated form.
Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
Outstanding Universal Value
The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen sites contain the highest density and greatest variety of dolmens in Korea, and indeed of any country. Dolmens are megalithic funerary monuments, which figured prominently in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures across the world during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. Usually consisting of two or more undressed stone slabs supporting a huge capstone, it is generally accepted that they were simply burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of deceased worthies. They are usually found in cemeteries on elevated sites and are of great archaeological value for the information that they provide about the prehistoric people who built them and their social and political systems, beliefs and rituals, and arts and ceremonies.
The property encompasses three distinct areas.
- The Gochang Dolmen Site (8.38 ha) features the largest and most diversified group, and is centered in the village of Maesan, along the southern foot of a group of hills running east/west. Over 440 dolmens of various types have been recorded in this location.
- The Hwasun Dolmen Site (31 ha) is situated on the slopes of a low range of hills, along the Jiseokgang River. There are more than 500 dolmens in this group. In a number of cases, the stone outcrops from which the stones making up these dolmens have been identified.
- The Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (12.27 ha) are on the offshore island of Ganghwa, on mountain slopes. They tend to be situated at a higher level than the dolmens of the other sites and are stylistically early, in particular those at Bugeun-ri and Gocheon-ri.
- The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites preserve important evidence of how stones were quarried, transported and raised and of how dolmen types changed over time in northeast Asia.
Criterion (iii): The global prehistoric technological and social phenomenon that resulted in the appearance in the 2nd and 3rd millennia BCE of funerary and ritual monuments constructed of large stones (the "Megalithic Culture") is nowhere more vividly illustrated than in the dolmen cemeteries of Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa.
A significant number of dolmens are distributed in each of the three areas, fully showing the development history of the megalithic culture with numerous examples of various style and type. The existence of a quarry near the site is especially important in providing references to the origins, nature and developmental history of the dolmens, as well as contributing to the integrity of the property. These components are all included within the boundaries of the inscribed property.
The re-erection of selected collapsed or dispersed dolmens is planned. This work will be based on meticulous scientific research, in order to establish the original configuration and location of the dolmens.
The greatest risk to the dolmens is fire and damage to the surrounding environment.
The dolmens possess authenticity of form, materials and location. Most of the dolmens have remained untouched since the time of their construction, their present condition being the result of normal processes of decay. Although a few have been dismantled by farmers their stones have survived intact and their original location and form can be identified without difficulty.
Protection and management requirements
The entire area of the three separate sites has been designated as a Cultural Heritage site under the Cultural Heritage Protection Act, which requires that they be protected and managed accordingly. The sites and the area that extends 500 m from the boundary of the each site have further protection under the Cultural Heritage Protection Act as a Historic Cultural Environment Protection Area. Any form of development or intervention requires authorization and environmental impact assessment, and repairs must be carried out by licensed specialists. The sites are open to the general public.
The properties belong to the Government of the Republic of Korea. Overall responsibility for protection, funding and the preparation and implementation of conservation policies for the sites and buffer zones rests with the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA). The National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage carries out academic research, field survey and excavation (in association with university museums and private heritage research institutes).
Day-to-day preservation and management is the responsibility of the relevant local administrations (Gochang-gun County, Hwasun-gun County and Ganghwa-gun County). The Gochang Dolmen Museum, Hwasun Dolmen Site Protection Pavilion and Ganghwa Historic Museum provide information about each dolmen site to visitors. Regular day-to-day monitoring is carried out and in-depth professional monitoring is carried out on a 3-to-4 year basis.
Management plans have been developed for each of the three properties within the inscribed site. Their primary objective is the preservation of the original character of the dolmen sites and their immediate environments. The plans cover scientific research (survey, inventory, selected excavation and paleo-environmental studies), protection of the environment (selective clearance of vegetation cover, routing of visitors to ensure minimal impact on the natural environment, acquisition of adjacent farmland to prevent incursions, etc.), systematic monitoring and presentation (signage, access roads and parking, interpretation facilities, public awareness and participation of local communities, festivals and other onsite events).
To prevent forest fire, scrubs near the dolmens are removed regularly and dolmens that have collapsed as a result of unearthed land or tree roots are investigated, extensively researched and restored to their original state.
The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa sites contain the highest density and greatest variety of dolmens in Korea, and indeed of any country. They preserve important evidence of how the stones were quarried, transported and raised and of how dolmen types changed over time in north-east Asia.
Dolmens are manifestations of the 'megalithic' culture that figured prominently in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures across the world during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. The prehistoric cemeteries at Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa contain many hundreds of examples of dolmens - tombs from the 1st millennium BC. They are to be found in western China (Tibet, Sichuan and Gansu) and the coastal areas of the Yellow Sea basin (Shandong peninsula, north-western Kyushu). They arrived in the Korean Peninsula with the Bronze Age. The Jungnim-ri group in Gochang is considered to date from around the 7th century BC. Dolmen construction ceased here in the 3rd century BC. The Hwasun dolmens are a little later, from the 6th-5th centuries BC. There are insufficient data to permit dating of the Ganghwa group, but they are thought to be earlier rather than later.
Dolmens usually consist of two or more undressed stone slabs supporting a huge capstone. It is generally accepted that they were simple burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of Neolithic and Bronze Age worthies. Earth mounds (barrows) would have covered them, but these would gradually disappear as a result of weathering and animal action. They may have been platforms on which corpses were exposed to permit excarnation to take place, leaving bones for burial in collective or family tombs. Dolmens are usually to be found in cemeteries on elevated sites, to allow them to be seen from the settlements on lower ground of the people who built them. In East Asia two main groups have been recognized, classified according to their form: the table type ('northern' type) and the go-board type ('southern' type). The first is an above-ground construction: four stone slabs are set up an edge to form a box or cist and a large capstone is laid on top. In the second case, the burial chamber is constructed below ground, with walls of slabs or piled stones; the capstone is supported on a number of stones laid on the ground. The so-called 'capstone' type is a variant of the go-board type in which the capstone is laid directly on the buried slabs.
Gochang Dolmen Sites: the Jungnim-ri dolmens, the largest and most diversified group, centre on the village of Maesan. Most of them are located at altitudes of 15-50 m along the southern foot of the hills running east-west. A total of 442 dolmens have been recorded, of various types, based on the shape of the capstone.
Hwasun Dolmen Sites: like those in the Gochang group, the Hwasun dolmens are located on the slopes of low ranges of hills, along the Jiseokgang River. Individual dolmens in this area are less intact than those in Gochang. The Hyosan-ri group is estimated to comprise 158 monuments and the Daesin-ri group 129. In a number of cases the stone outcrops from which the stones making up the dolmens were quarried can be identified.
Ganghwa Dolmen Sites: these sites are on the offshore island of Ganghwa, once again on mountain slopes. They tend to be higher than those in the other sites and stylistically early, notably those at Bugeun-ri and Gojeon-ri. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
[in French only]
Les dolmens sont les manifestations d'une culture « mégalithique » qui s'exprime dans le monde entier plus particulièrement à l'époque du néolithique et de l'âge du bronze, aux IIe et Ier millénaires avant J.-C. Cette utilisation de grandes pierres trouve son origine dans l'émergence de nouvelles techniques et s'est manifestée par des alignements et des cercles rituels tels que ceux de Stonehenge et des Orcades au Royaume-Uni, des chambres mortuaires telles que celles de Brugh na Bóinne en Irlande ainsi que des cercles et des sépultures de pierre en Afrique occidentale.
Les mégalithes sont une caractéristique notable de la préhistoire de l'est de l'Asie au Ier millénaire avant J.-C. On les trouve principalement dans l'ouest de la Chine (Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu) et dans les régions côtières du bassin de la Mer Jaune (péninsule de Shandong, nord-ouest de Kyushu).
Il semblerait que les dolmens soient apparus dans la péninsule coréenne à l'âge du bronze. Le groupe de Chungnim-ri, à Koch'ang, date environ du VIIe siècle avant J.-C., d'après les données archéologiques. La construction des dolmens s'est interrompue à cet endroit au IIIe siècle avant J.-C. Les mégalithes de Hwasun sont un peu plus récents et remontent aux VIe et Ve siècles avant J.-C. On ne dispose pas de suffisamment d'informations pour dater le groupe de Kanghwa mais il semblerait qu'il soit antérieur. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation