Whereas traditional Korean tombs tend to be found on expansive plains, the 200 burial chambers in Goryeong, North Gyeongsang Province, that serve as relics from the Gaya period are scattered along the slope of a low-lying mountain.
Although few historical materials remain from Gaya, an ancient confederacy of territorial polities in the southern part of Korea, a trip to Goryeong offers a chance to look at tombs, pottery and ironware from the time.
Visitors can trace Gaya's ancient culture by heading to the Daegaya Museum at the foot of Mt. Ju in Goryeong. A cluster of ancient tombs provide a rare glimpse into life on the peninsula 1,500 years ago.
One of the permanent exhibitions at the museum includes artifacts that date back to the Old Stone Age. A display of pottery and accessories shows a high level of craftsmanship combining artistry with practicality.
Special exhibitions are displayed once or twice a year at the museum. Currently, one is being held on earthenware and porcelain kilns, where visitors can learn how ancient pottery and earthenware were made.
After looking around the exhibitions, children can enjoy hands-on experiences, such as assembling jigsaw puzzles with pictures of earthenware, and making rubbed copies of the pottery.
To the left of the museum, visitors can see what an ancient royal tomb looked like as an exhibition center houses a life-size replica of Jisan-ri Tomb No. 44, the nation's first confirmed case of burying living servants with their dead master. Visitors can inspect the structure of the mausoleum, see how it was built, and learn about the kind of burial objects that were interred with the dead.
A 10-minute walk along a gentle slope from the museum leads to Mt. Ju, home to a cluster of ancient tombs. The higher a tomb sits, the larger it is. The royal tombs at the top of the mountain were immense, hinting at the power of the leadership in the ancient state's heyday. The mountaintop commands a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and other points of interest, including a theme park.
The park includes a village made of ancient homes, giving a glimpse into the food, clothing and shelter used in ancient times, as well as Gaya's flourishing steel industry at the time. There are also various events and opportunities to experience ancient culture.
For more information, call the museum at (054) 950-6071.