Oldest movable metal printing type discovered in North Korea

A piece of Koryo-era metal type predating what is believed to be the world’s oldest book printed with movable metal type in 1377, has been unearthed in the North Korean border town of Kaesong. 

 

 Archaeologists from South and North Korea found what could be movable metal type  from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). There are only two pieces of extant Goryeo-era  movable type in both South and North Korea, despite historical records showing  that the technology was widely used in Korea in the 13th century. No scientific  tests have yet been conducted on the newly discovered piece of type  [Credit: Inter-Korean Historian Association]


Archaeologists from South and North Korea found what could be movable metal type  from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). There are only two pieces of extant Goryeo-era  movable type in both South and North Korea, despite historical records showing  that the technology was widely used in Korea in the 13th century. No scientific  tests have yet been conducted on the newly discovered piece of type  [Credit: Inter-Korean Historian Association]

The piece was excavated from Manwoldae, a Koryo Dynasty palace in Kaesong, during a joint-Korean project, said Choi Kwang-sik of Korea University who leads the project. The project team told reporters that 19 sites of buildings were uncovered and about 3,500 items, including inscribed roof tiles, pieces of celadon, and dragon finials, were unearthed during the excavation that started in June. 

 

The piece of metal type found during a recent excavation at Manwoldae in Kaesong,  from different angles [Credit: Yonhap]

The piece of metal type found during a recent excavation at Manwoldae in Kaesong,  from different angles [Credit: Yonhap]


The Manwoldae was built by King Taejo, the founder of the Koryo Kingdom, at the foot of Mt. Songak in Kaesong in 919. It was burned down during a Red Turban invasion in the last years of the kingdom. Since 2007, archaeologists from both Koreas have jointly excavated the site. 

 

The newly discovered piece of type is among some 3,500 artifacts found at Manwoldae,  where the two Koreas have been conducting a joint excavation since 2007 [Credit: Joongang Ilbo]

The newly discovered piece of type is among some 3,500 artifacts found at Manwoldae,  where the two Koreas have been conducting a joint excavation since 2007 [Credit: Joongang Ilbo]


« We need to conduct follow-up research of the metal type including when it was made, what kind of font was used, and what it was made from, » Choi said. « We discussed with North Korean historians a way to carry out a radiocarbon dating and other investigations because there are still traces of ink on the metal type. »

 

Source: The Chosunilbo


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