November 23, 2007 09:54
The National Cultural Properties Research Institute on Thursday unveiled a gilt bronze crown, iron armor and iron-brimmed helmet from the Baekje Kingdom 1,600 years ago.
The institute has taken care of the relics since Chonnam National University excavated them from an ancient tomb in Goheung, South Jeolla Province in March, 2006. The relics are assumed to have been presented as royal gifts to the leader of the Goheung area by the ancient kingdom in the early 5th century, which was then expanding its territories to southern parts of the Korean Peninsula.
The armor and helmet are considered among the finest items made during the Baekje Kingdom. Because so far similar relics have been uncovered mostly in Japan, even those excavated in the old Baekje and Gaya regions were thought to have been imported from Japan. Gaya was a confederacy of city states in southern Korea which existed until the sixth century.
But the Japanese relics belong to the period after the mid-5th century, much later than the newly-uncovered ones, according to Prof. Lee Han-sang of Daejeon University. "That is why the new relics are very significant, because they indicate that Korean armor and helmets may been taken to Japan" from Korea, Lee said.
Experts believe that judging from the leaf-shape design, the gilt crown was of a lower class than other gilt crowns engraved with dragons and phoenixes from the same period excavated in Gongju and Seosan, South Chungcheong Province.
That indicates Baekje used a different rank system for the local nobility when it tried to expand its power. Archeologists say the relics are evidence that Baekje had a bureaucracy in place to rule local areas systematically.
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