Gaya Tumuli of Gimhae - Haman

Date of Submission: 11/12/2013
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Korea to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Daeseong-dong, Gimhae City, Gyeongsangnam-do, Dohang-ri, Gaya-eup, Haman-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Ref.: 5847
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli N35 23 60.59 E128 87 31.05

Haman Malisan Tumuli N35 27 37.36 E128 40 46.6

It is generally accepted that Gaya (伽倻) had started sometime around the beginning of AD, when several early political bodies of Goguryeo (高句麗), Baekje (百濟) and Silla (新羅) were becoming to shape to the states and existed until AD 562 when the Silla kingdom destroyed Daegaya (大伽倻). Among some political bodies of the former stage of Three Kingdoms, Byeonhan (弁韓) is considered as the origin of Gaya. Guyaguk (狗倻國) or Garakguk (駕洛國) in Gimhae, Anyaguk or Anraguk in Haman, Banyaguk or Garaguk (駕洛國) in Goryeong region became Geumgwangaya (金官伽倻), Aragaya (阿羅伽倻), and Daegaya (大伽倻) respectively. In many basins of western Gyeongsangnam-do such as Hapcheon, Goseong, Sacheon, Jinju, and Sancheong, big or small political bodies were formed and historians call them Sogaya (小伽倻) altogether. There are many views about the political development of Gaya. Historians who favour the single union hypothesis argue that Gaya was united around Geumgwangaya before 4th century and around Daegaya after 5th century. Historians who believe the local formation hypothesis say that Gaya were a group of independent local bodies. Meanwhile, other historians who follow the ancient kingdom hypothesis say that Daegaya developed into an ancient kingdom in the late 5th century. Archeological remains and sites of Gaya are heavily concentrated in Gyeongsangnam-do area of the Korean peninsula. Among many sites, Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli and Haman Malisan Tumuli were recommended as a candidate for the World Heritage in view of their original form, preservation and management system, and the outstanding heritage value.

Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli

Daeseong-dong Tumuli located in central Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do is the cluster of tombs of kings and upper class of Geumgwangaya. It is designated as No. 341 Historic Site by the government. Until now, ten surveys have been accomplished to inspect more than 136 tombs. It has been proved that kings and rulers were buried along the ridge of the hill, and other lower civilians were buried along the slope. Various types of tombs were identified such as wood-lined burial chamber, double wood-lined burial chamber, pot-shaped coffin, double stone-lined burial chamber, stone burial chamber with horizontal corridor, stone burial chamber with horizontal entrance.

The double wood-lined burial tomb is the dominant chamber. As the tomb of the rulers of Geumgwangaya, their size is rather lager - 9m in length and 5m in width - and both the dead and the living were buried. It was built between the late third century and the early 5th century. Many household items, ironware and horse armours which show the culture of the golden age of Gaya were excavated. Especially, a large amount of items imported from China, northern Asian countries and Japan were found. They are good source of understanding the trade between northeast Asian countries of this era and it proves the value of the heritage site as a common heritage of mankind.

Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli is regarded as the key treasure of early Gaya. It has extraordinary value in explaining the clue of the establishment, development, characteristic, and political and social system of Gaya.

Haman Malisan Tumuli

This tumuli are tombs of kings and aristocrats of Aragaya located in Gaya-eup, Haman-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do. It is designated as No, 515 Historic Site by the government. The first research on the Haman Malisan area was undertaken at the 5th and 34th tombs of Malisan in 1914 and the distribution map of 52 tombs were completed in 1917. There have been about 30 excavation surveys so far. It has been proved that there are hundreds of small and medium-sized tombs around of about hundred burial mounds. The kings of Anraguk or Aragaya were buried in the large mounds in the Haman Malisan Tumuli. There are about 50 tombs which are bigger than 20m radius, and another 50 tombs are bigger than 10m. It has been proved by excavation that the structure of tombs varies reflecting the period. Beginning the wood-lined burial chamber, built sometime around AD, it developed into the large double wood-lined burial chamber over 5m in length in the fourth century, stone burial chamber with vertical entrance in the fifth century, and stone burial chamber with horizontal corridor after the sixth century. Many weapons, horse armours and accessories for kings were excavated in these areas. Especially, horse armour which was similarly depicted in the murals of Goguryeo tombs has been excavated in a perfect form at Magapchong Tomb. This is the obvious evidence that Aragaya developed into a mighty ancient kingdom based on the iron technology.

It is a distinguishing feature that there is only one burial chamber in each tomb in this area. It means that Aragaya buried the dead together with the living as attendants in the same chamber. It makes a difference with Daegaya, which has multi burial chambers for the living as attendants.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Tumuli of Gimhae Daeseong-dong and Haman Malisan which were built about 1500 years ago are empirical evidence and obvious proof of Gaya civilization. In view of the specific structures which are good examples of an aspect of history, it appears that they are conforming to Article (iii) and (iv) of the criteria for World Heritage. Gaya tombs which were built in the developing period of ancient kingdoms (3~6th century AD) in the Korean peninsula are the historical evidence that flowing through political, social, military and ideological culture of ancient Northeast Asia.

The outstanding universal value of Gaya tumuli located in Gimhae Daeseong-dong and Haman Malisan are as below:

From later third century to sixth century, Gaya coexisted with Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, and formed as an independent political and cultural body in southern Korean peninsula. The culture of Gaya can be traced back through the sites, especially tombs. Gaya tombs are located where can be seen from every people and they are symbols of an afterlife. Gaya tombs represent the group identity sharing a common destiny. It played important role to strengthen the national solidarity. Also, many kinds of household items, accessories, weapons, horse armour which were found in the tumuli show state of living and socio-political order of rank of Gaya. And there were many artefacts that are trade goods from foreign countries such as China, northern Asian region and Japan. In particular, these are important evidence of understanding the ancient international relations of Gaya. Gaya tombs and grave goods are the only evidence proving the historical subject of Gaya people and ancient kingdom Gaya. And they have special value in terms of anthropology because they are material evidence to speak for both unique and universal culture of Gaya and Gaya people.

1. The outstanding scenery of position and cluster of tombs

Gaya tombs boast of superb historical scenery because they were built on the top of the main mountain of the capital or along the top of hill of capital. It was a visual ostentation of kingship to the people in achieving political and social subordination. And the cluster of tombs reflects the caste system and community sentiment. Its outstanding historical scenery on the top of mountain is a differentiated characteristic when compared to Silla's Grand Tumuli and Goguryeo tombs which were both inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

2. The special evidence of the perished Gaya civilization

The type of burial chamber of Gaya ranges from the wooden tomb in the 4th century, stone tomb in the 5th century, and stone burial chamber in the 6th century. This is not merely the change of the type of burial chamber. Taking into account the positive data of the change of Gaya history, it has universal value because it shows the aspect of exchange between many states of Northeast Asia.

3. The empirical evidence of the cultural trade in Northeast Asia

Gaya located at the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula. Gaya played an important role of mediator of trading between Northeast Asian nations such as China, Korea and Japan. Especially, Gaya exported iron which had the highest value to China, Japan and other states of the Korean peninsula. As a result, the ancient culture of Northeast Asia was rapidly advanced. Gaya tombs are material evidence of the universal development of human civilization, because the Chinese and Japanese artefacts from Gaya tombs speak for the international trade.

4. The afterlife thoughts of Gaya tombs as an evidence of the lost civilization

Gaya tombs are not only evidence of culture, burial custom, lifestyle and religion of Gaya but also the living record of history. A burial custom that burying each members of the social group in the concentrated graveyard near the living zone, and the custom that bury clay dishes and accessories for daily life and weapons for emergency are the expression of afterlife thoughts that speaks for the desire of living after death. This was an expression of universal afterlife beliefs in the Northeast Asian cultural area.

And there was also a peculiar burial custom of Gaya people which burying each members of different caste in the social group in the concentrated graveyard which is an expression of the wish of coexisting in the future society.

Criterion (ⅲ) Gaya tumuli are the archaeological sites which were made 1500 years ago. They are material evidence of lost Gaya civilization and are the special type of structures which are the excellent example of development of the history of Northeast Asia including China, Korea, and Japan. Tombs and the artefacts are the living historical evidence which contains various idea and culture of Gaya.

Criterion (ⅳ) Gaya tumuli were built when many states in Northeast Asia were growing as ancient kingdoms. They are the only evidence that Gaya people coexisted with other countries. And they are material evidence of the special culture of Gaya people and the history development of Northeast Asia which have special value for the history of mankind.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The authenticity of Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli

Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli which are tombs of kings and aristocrats of Geumgwangaya are designated as No. 341 Historic Site (1991.1.9, 56,762㎡). Since the first excavation of tombs undertaken by the Kyungsung University Museum in June, 1990, there were about 10 excavations until the last survey carried out by the Daeseong-dong Tombs Museum in August, 2012. These archeological excavations reveal the daily life, culture and ideology of Geumgwangaya people and the frequent trade with China and Japan.

Daeseong-dong Tumuli are systemically showing the development of Geumgwngaya tombs which had changed from wooden tomb to wooden chamber. The plenty of iron items and trading goods from China, the nomads of northern Asia and Japan were also excavated. It reveals the international position of Gaya as the center of sea trading and iron production.

Also, the female human bone excavated in Daeseong-dong 57th tomb was restored as a mannequin of a Gaya woman by scientific method. It is good material to assume the characteristic and ethnic system of Gaya people. Burying the living as an attendant on the death of his lord is an identical custom of the burying culture of Gaya people. Daeseong-dong Tumuli are meaningful because they are showing the origin of burying the living of Gaya.

The synonymous phrase and excavated items of Daeseong-dong tombs secured by the archaeological excavations and scientific analysis can ensure the authenticity of the heritage site. The iron items and unglazed earthenware can be evaluated as important factors of the burial culture and ancient kingdoms. And the excavated items which show the trade with earlier Yen China(前燕) are the evidence of Gaya kingdom as a centre of trading.

The authenticity of Haman Malisan Tumuli

Aragaya is recorded as 'Byun Jingusaguk' (弁辰狗邪國) in 'Samgukji' (三國志), Araguk (阿羅國)in the Biography of 'Samguksagi' (三國史記), 'Aragaya' (阿羅伽倻) in the Five Gaya Section of 'Samgukyusa' (三國遺事). The existence of Aragaya in the literature can be reconfirmed by their tombs. Malisan Tumuli are graveyard of the kings, aristocrats and the common of Aragaya.

The archeological research was the chance of reminding the lost Gaya civilization. The first excavation on the Haman Malisan Tumuli was on 1914, and the distribution map of 52 tombs were completed on 1917 about the location, appearance and phenomenon of each tombs. Following the 30 times of excavation after 1980, basic data of the change in burial type of rulers and the social aspects of Aragaya became grounds of authenticity of the heritage.

Tombs are the symbol and formalization of the life and thoughts of Gaya people, and they are the symbol of the utopia of Aragaya people. Gaya Tombs were functioning as a monument of mental, cultural and esthetic identity of the Koreans in the history. Since Malisan Tombs located in the center of the capital of Aragaya, it is not only the symbol of utopia in the daily life, but also the symbol of afterlife views of Gaya people which their life continues after death. The tombs of kings lined along the top of hill and the tombs of people surrounding them are the symbol of the severe social status order. And the artifacts found in the tombs shows authenticity and are vivid evidence of Gaya people. Malisan Tumuli is assigned as Historic Site and being managed by the Cultural Properties Protection Law of Korea. The location, the surrounding scenery and the original form of the tombs are well managed, and the authenticity of the heritage is continuously preserved.

The integrity of Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli

Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli has distinct integrity because they are located at the highland of Geumgwangaya and are close to Mt. Gujibong where the foundation legend of Gaya lies, Bonghwang-dong site where the Gaya palace is located and the tomb of King Suro who founded Gaya.

The previous 10 times of excavation on this area had revealed a total of 136 tombs including wooden chamber, clay pot burial chamber, stone-lined burial chamber, and stone burial chamber. Among them, wooden chamber was the main type of burial chamber. The wooden chamber was started in the first and second century. There were 34 tombs of this type and various earthenware, ironware, lacquer ware, accessories were found and this shows the culture of Guyaguk which was located at Gimhae area during the Three Han period. A total of 46 wooden chamber tombs were inspected. 30 larger chambers were found in the ridge and 16 smaller tombs were spread in the surrounding area. The wooden chamber style was adopted for rulers of Geumgwangaya from the later third century to the early fifth century. Many items were found such as earthenware, ironware, accessories and cloths all which are the best testimony in understanding the culture of the prosperous time of Geumgwangaya. And there were also excavated items having the origins from China, northern Asian countries and Japan. Therefore, Daeseong-dong Tumuli are the best heritage site which can reveal us the past secrets of the foundation, development, characteristic, political and social system of Gaya. In 1991, Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli is designated as Historic Site. In order to maintain the heritage value, its large surrounding area was secured and the strict legal measurements are enforced for the protection on the originality from any uncontrolled development or natural damage.

The integrity of Haman Malisan Tumuli

Haman Malisan Tumuli consists of about 100 tombs which represent the various periods from Three Han to the sixth century AD when Gaya perished. Also, the characteristic of each tomb of various periods are clear and they have universal value for understanding the international relationship between Gaya and Northeast Asia cultural zone. Various types of burial chambers and excavated items from Malisan grounds are efficiently showing the history of Aragaya. The integrity of heritage site consists of various type of chambers such as wooden chamber built in the northern ridge of Malisan Tombs from about AD to the later second century; large wooden chamber built in the early fifth century; great mound with vertically burial chamber mainly built in the later fifth century; and stone burial chamber with horizontal entrance which was newly built in the early sixth century.

Judged from the facts of a series of excavation, it is clearly evident that Aragaya was an advanced political body which led the entire of Gaya states from the beginning to the end. As the wonder of Aragaya, Malisan grounds represent vividly the Gaya culture in terms of the location of tombs, internal structure, excavated items which have been well preserved in good condition of the older days. According to the law, it was designated as Historic Site and the sustainable preservation and management plan was also drafted to prevent the heritage site from the possible damages. Malisan archaeological area is preserved in perfect condition as an ideological centre and a reflection of Aragaya people. The tombs in the urban area are functioning as a place of reset and historical education. The place where the nature and human beings coexists, therefore, has integrity in both material and immaterial ways.

Comparison with other similar properties

Comparison with other similar heritage objects in the country

Gyeongju Historic Area

Gyeongju (慶州), the capital of Silla Kingdom, lasted unprecedently more than 1000 years. There are many well-preserved heritages relating to Buddhism and royal palace which show the history and culture of Silla. Gyeongju Historic Area inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list is divided into five clusters including Wolsong palace area, Hwangryongsa temple site, mountain fortress, Namsan area and Grand Tumuli area according to the characteristics of each site and a number of 52 cultural assets are located within this boundary. As reference to Gaya tombs, the Grand Tumuli are tombs of Silla kings and aristocrats. They are showing the cultural assets of Silla which ruled Korean peninsula for about 1000 years.

The comparison of Gaya Tombs with Silla Tombs

Gaya tombs which are the object of tentative list have six distinctive differences with Silla. First, the tombs of Kings, aristocrats and other people in Silla are strictly separated in different graves, but the tombs in Gaya Tombs are not separated. The concentrated tombs are symbol of lineage of social position and community sentiment. Haman Malisan Tumuli are outstanding scenery because they are built on the top or along the top of natural ridge inside the capital. The outstanding historical scenery of Gaya tombs on the top of mountain is a differentiated characteristic when compared to the Grand Tumuli in Gyeongju.

Second, Silla's tumuli have the single and double-circular mounds in outer shape. And their dominant burial type is wood-coffin stone mound for a long time. On the other hand, there exist only single-circular mound in Gaya. There are various burial types including wooden coffin, stone coffin, and stone chamber. The variety of burial types is related to the mainstream of Northeast Asian tradition. But Silla persists their tradition of building only the wood-coffin stone mounds. Third, only one person such as king or ruler is buried in Gyeongju tombs but there were multi-burial chambers in the same tomb in Gaya. Fourth, afterlife thoughts can be commonly found in both Gaya and Silla tombs. However, the Buddhism tradition which was shown in Silla tombs cannot be detected in Gaya tombs. Also, the corpses which were buried as attendants were found in Haman and Gimhae tumuli, but no attendants were found in Silla tombs. The burial culture of Silla was changing according to the introduction of new religion, but Gaya held out the existing culture. Fifth, it is noteworthy that the Gyeongju tumuli buried items which were introduced from central Asia, but in Gaya tombs, there were the items imported from China and Japan by sea. This shows vividly the ancient trade of Northeast Asian cultural zone.

Comparison with other similar heritage outside the country

Koguryo Tombs

Koguryo tombs which approved as a World Heritage in 2004 are located in North Korea and China. The Chinese site includes archaeological remains of three cities (Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City) and 40 tombs (14 tombs of imperial, 26 of nobles) of Koguryo (高句麗, Goguryeo). And North Korean site listed 30 tombs of later Koguryo which was built from third century BC to seventh century AD. They are mainly built for the kings, the royal family and aristocrats. Particularly, they have high value because of murals inside the tombs which show the daily life of that era.

The comparison of Gaya Tombs and Koguryo Tombs

Gaya tumuli which is the object of tentative list has four distinctive differences with Koguryo tombs. First, Koguryo tombs for kings and noblemen are built in both circular and square forms. And the piled stone tombs and the mounds on the stone burial chamber are the original type of Koguryo which reveals the excellence of Koguryo construction. However, the appearance of Gaya tombs is only circular, but the burial chambers varies including wooden coffin, stone coffin, and stone chamber. Namely, since Koguryo people concentrate on the appearance of the tombs, it is the distinctive difference that Gaya people concentrate on the internal structure and buried items.

Second, Koguryo tombs and Gaya tombs are very different in their size. Most of Koguryo tombs have radius of 30~70m but the biggest of Gaya tombs have smaller radius of only 20~30m. The size difference largely resulted from the fact that the purpose of Koguryo tombs were showing off the power and authority of kings by coercion, solemnity and isolation from other people. But the Gaya people had the intention to build tombs on the hilltop which every members of the community to look upon the scenery. This is the different viewpoint that they tried to get authority by focusing on the overall scenery of tombs to emphasize the community spirit, not on the size of each tomb.

Third, in case of Koguryo tombs, one single person such as king or chief ruler is principally buried, but Gaya's burial system has the multi-burial chambers in the same mound. It reveals that Koguryo was changing into the absolute monarchy, whereas Gaya was still keeping a political system as a confederation of rulers. Fourth, there are some different characteristics in terms of burial items. Koguryo people expressed their afterlife thoughts and hermit thoughts by drawing the inside murals such as genre painting, ornamental designs and the four divine deities of gods. On the other hands, Gaya has distinctive features of many household items, weapons, trading goods, luxury goods found in tombs. By the burial items, they showed the power of the ruler in farming, religion, trading and foreign affair and afterlife thoughts of the state.