Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites

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Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
UNESCO World Heritage site
Dolmens at Ganghwa Island
Location South Korea
Criteria Cultural: (iii)
Reference 977
Inscription 2000 (24th Session)
Area 51.65 ha (127.6 acres)
Buffer zone 314.55 ha (777.3 acres)
Coordinates 34°58′0″N 126°55′45″E / 34.96667°N 126.92917°E / 34.96667; 126.92917Coordinates: 34°58′0″N 126°55′45″E / 34.96667°N 126.92917°E / 34.96667; 126.92917
Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites is located in South Korea
Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
Location of Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites in South Korea
Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
Hangul / /
Hanja / /
Revised Romanization Gochang / Hwasun / Ganghwa Jiseongmyogun
McCune–Reischauer Koch'ang / Hwasun / Kanghwa Chisŏngmyogun

The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites are the location of hundreds of stone dolmen which were used as grave markers and for ritual purposes during the first millennium BCE when the Megalithic Culture was prominent on the Korean Peninsula. The sites were designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. Korea is said to contain more than 40% of the world's dolmen, which are mostly concentrated in these three sites.

The megalithic stones are invaluable because they mark the graves of the ruling elite. Pottery, comma-shaped jewels, bronzes, stone tools, and other funerary artifacts have been excavated from these dolmen. The culture of the people during this time can be gleaned from the evidence left by the dolmen. Additionally, it can be induced from the stones how the stone was quarried, transported, and used to build the dolmen.

Dolmen in Korea have been dated to the seventh century BCE in locations such as Gochang and the practice ended around the third century BCE. The dolmen culture is linked with the Neolithic and bronze cultures of Korea.

Excavation at the sites did not begin until 1965. Since, then multiple digs have been sponsored and an extensive program of inventory and preservation has been initiated by the Korean government.


Dolmen are generally classified in two types in East Asia. The table/northern-type and the go-board/southern-type. In the former, four stones were positioned to make the walls of a box and were capped by a stone which lay on top of the supports. The latter is characterized by underground burial with stones that supported the capstone.

Gochang Dolmen Site[edit]

One of the tallest Dolmens at Gochang Dolmen site

This group of dolmen are the largest and most varied. They are known as the Jungnim-ri dolmens and are centered in Maesan village, Gochang County, North Jeolla province.

The dolmens were built from east to west at the foot of a series of hills at an altitude of 15 to 50 meters/49 feet to 164 feet. Generally, the capstones of the dolmens are around 1 to 5.8 meters/3.2 to 19 feet in length and may weigh up to 225 tons. 442 dolmen have been documented and classified based on the size of the capstone.

This group is believed to have been constructed around the seventh century BCE.

The Gochang Dolmen Site is listed as Historic Site #391.

Hwasun Dolmen Sites[edit]

Dolmens at Hwasun Dolmen Site

Found in Hwasun County, South Jeolla, 34°58′39″N 126°55′54″E / 34.9775414°N 126.931551°E / 34.9775414; 126.931551, these dolmens are also located on the slopes of hills and follow the Jiseokgang river. The Hyosan-ri group contains 158 dolmens and the Dasin-ri group, 129. These dolmens are less well preserved than the Jungnim-ri group. The quarry where some of the stones of this group were carved out has been located. This group is dated to around the sixth or fifth century BCE.

Ganghwa Dolmen Sites[edit]

An example of a go-board/southern-type dolmen on Ganghwa

These dolmens are located on Ganghwa Island, Ganghwa County, Incheon. They are located on the slopes of mountains and are thus higher in elevation than their counterparts. These dolmens are believed to be earliest ones made because the dolmen groups in Bugeun-ri (부근리, in Hajeom-myeon) and Gocheon-ri (고천리, in Naega-myeon) resemble the early dolmens. However, this has not been conclusively proved.

A notable dolmen at Ganghwa is a northern/table-type dolmen where it was believed ancestral rites were performed. It is the biggest stone in South Korea with measures of 2.6 × 7.1 × 5.5 meters, but it has only two supporting stones. Combined the supporting stones and the capstone weigh between 150 and 225 tons.


See also[edit]

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