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Complex of Goguryeo Tombs

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Title: Complex of Goguryeo Tombs  
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Subject: Goguryeo, Korean art, North Korea, Funerary art, World Heritage Sites in North Korea
Collection: Archaeological Sites in North Korea, Goguryeo, Korean Art, Murals, World Heritage Sites in North Korea
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Complex of Goguryeo Tombs

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Complex of Koguryo Tombs
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List

Goguryeo tomb mural
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv
Reference 1091
UNESCO region Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 2004 (28th Session)
Complex of Goguryeo Tombs is located in North Korea
Complex of Goguryeo Tombs
Location in North Korea
Complex of Goguryeo Tombs
Hangul 고구려 고분군
Hanja 高句麗古墳群
Revised Romanization Goguryeo gobun(-)gun
McCune–Reischauer Koguryŏ kobun'gun

The Complex of Goguryeo Tombs (Complex of Koguryo Tombs) lie in North Korea. In July 2004, they became the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the country. The site consists of 30 individual tombs from the later Goguryeo kingdom, one of Three Kingdoms of Korea, located in the cities of P'yŏngyang and Namp'o. Goguryeo was one of the strongest Korean kingdoms in the north east of China and the Korean Peninsula from 37 BCE to the 7th century CE. The kingdom was founded in the present day area of Northern Korea, and part of Manchuria around 37 BCE, and the capital was transferred to P'yŏngyang in 427 CE.

Many of the tombs, such as the Anak Tomb No. 3, have wall paintings. The tombs are almost all that remains from this culture. There are over 10,000 Goguryeo tombs overall, but only about 90 of those unearthed in China and Korea have wall paintings. The Complex of Goguryeo Tombs inscribed on the World Heritage List contains the majority of these tombs with wall paintings. It is thought that the complex was used as a burial site for kings, queens and other members of the royal family. The paintings found on the tombs offer a unique insight into the everyday life of the Goguryeo period. The group includes the Tomb of King Tongmyong.

The murals are strongly coloured and show daily life and Korean mythologies of the time. By 2005, 70 murals had been found, mostly in the Taedong river basin near Pyongyang, the Anak area in South Hwanghae province, and in Ji'an in China's Jilin province.

The following criteria were considered by UNESCO to merit the Goguryeo tombs' inscription as a World Heritage site:

  • The wall paintings are masterpieces of the Goguryeo period. The tombs themselves reflect ingenious engineering capabilities.
  • The site offers exceptional insights into the Goguryeo culture, both into everyday life and burial customs.
  • The Goguryeo tombs are an important example of this burial typology.

In May 2006, 2,360 individual tombs were discovered at the site of the ancient Goguryeo kingdom during work on the Yunfeng Reservoir. Ruins of an ancient city were discovered as well. Among the ruins was a city wall that was 1.5 meters tall and four meters wide. Evidence also suggested the presence of a moat. A dozen tombs were found within the city.

See also

External links

  • UNESCO (2005). Preservation of the Koguryo Kingdom Tombs (PDF)
  • Complex of Koguryo Tombs, UNESCO World Heritage
  • Northeast Asia's intra-mural mural wars, 6th century Korean murals
  • ROK, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Goguryeo controversies

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