Conférence : “Mortuary Ritual in Iron Age Korea”
“Mortuary Ritual in Iron Age Korea”
8 septembre 2016, 12h00-13h00
Archaeological Research Facility
College Building 2251
University of California – Berkeley, CA 94720-1076
The emergence of complex, stratified society and increased contact with Han China makes the Korean Iron Age (ca. 300 BC to 300 AD) a valuable archaeological case study in secondary state formation. However, the rapid pace of social change, scope of technological and economic development, and cultural diversity in the southern portion of the peninsula also allows the region to be a compelling starting point for questioning and redefining these well-worn archaeological topics. But despite the accumulation of a huge volume of archaeological data since the 1970s and the presence of a vibrant academic archaeological community in South Korea, the region remains relatively unknown and understudied outside of East Asia.
This talk introduces the material culture of the Iron Age, the major questions of concern to Korean scholars working on this material, and suggests how mortuary data upends models of unilineal social evolution and textually derived narratives typically applied to the region. By focusing primarily on grave goods (the only recoverable material at most sites), I argue that broad similarities in the mortuary ritual of the region masks significant variability in the adoption of new tomb elements, elite legitimizing strategies, and differing degrees of participation in regional customs. The picture that emerges is one of competition, emulation, and indifference among a number of small, politically independent groups that served as the foundation for the first historical kingdoms on the Korean peninsula.