Apdok-kuk: A Look Back on History
Apdok-kuk: A Look Back on History
  • Lee Sun-min
  • 승인 2018.11.08 19:36
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The Imdang relics exhibition hall in Yeungnam University Museum
The Imdang relics exhibition hall in Yeungnam University Museum

Do the students of Yeungnam University know that the our museum displays relics full of interesting histories? The Observer is going to introduce particular relics and their histories that are provided this year at Yeungnam University Museum. We hope students get some useful information regarding the museum from The Observer. If  you are interested in the relics that you can’t observe in any other museum and want to hear intriguing news about them, you may want to wait for The Observer’s next issue.


The Development of Apdok-kuk and Its Disappearance in History

 The recent discovery of a tomb believed to have been buried by the ruling class of the Three Kingdoms Period in Hayang-eup, Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do has greatly increased interest of people in Apdok-kuk. Historically, Apdok-kuk was located in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do. According to Samgukji, Apdok-kuk was assumed to be one of the nations in the area of Gyeongsan, but there was no exact name for it. However, the name ‘Apdok-kuk’ is found in the Samguksagi which was compiled in the 12th century. The evidence that Apdok-kuk existed was presented in the 1980s when several ancient tombs were excavated in Imdang-dong and Joyeong-dong in Gyeongsan. Several ancient tombs and castles were built there. There is a historical view that, during the time of Jin and Byun Han, the place began to be called an ‘Apdok’ after it was subjugated by the 4th century Silla. During the formative period, Apdok-kuk was a less powerful social organization that consisted of several villages. Then, presumably it grew and developed as a powerful central village. However, it is not clear whether any authentic archaeological excavation is going on to find the exact area of the Apdok-kuk. Meanwhile, an Imdang relic, which was known as the center of the country, is a key that provides clues to identify the ancient Apdok-kuk, considering that approximately 25,000 artifacts were excavated from this site.

 According to archaeological studies in the Yeungnam region, Apdok-kuk was dominated by Silla around the 4th century, A.D. After the country was annexed to Silla, it maintained relations with Silla for about 200 years under the indirect rule of a central government. During this time, local leaders in the area of Apdok-kuk attained jewelry exclusively with the support of Silla, and built large tombs that showed off their authority. They also created a large-scale earthenware production complex, and distributed and consumed the manufactured Apdok earthen pots.

 Apdok-kuk enhanced its agricultural productivity by using the allurvial plain that was formed by the Geumhogang River and Omokcheon, a farmland. It shows how Apdok-kuk transformed into a more influential region that contributed to the formation of the Silla Dynasty, including the building of a defense system, Saturn. During the first half of the 6th century, Gyeongsan was Apdok-gun and Apryang-ju, and a local government was dispatched from the center of Silla.

 When the Three Kingdoms’ War was waged, Kim Yu-shin and Kim In-moon served at crucial military areas, while performing their mission sent to an Apryang-ju monarch or prime minister. As Kim Yu-shin ruled Apryang-ku, located in Apdok-kuk, he trained soldiers. When Baekje troops advanced into the area, he mobilized the soldiers who trained there and gained a victory.


Historical Site in Imdang: Apdok-kuk

 In the middle of the 8th century when King Gyeongdeok of the Silla Dynasty held the scepter, the name of Apdok officially disappeared because its name was changed into Jangsan-gun. Apdok-kuk that appeared in the Samguksagi, the oldest history book in Korea, was understood as a small country based on present day Gyeongsan. Imdang relics of Apdok-kuk were already known from the Japanese occupation period. However, during that period, the proper preservation and management of Imdang relics was not done. As a result, Imdang relics were destroyed by private homes around the Imdang Ancient Tombs, and the remaining relics were even pillaged and smuggled by robbers.

 On 15 January 1982, when the smuggling problem of Imdang relics was published in the Seoul Shinmun, people gave their attention to this serious situation. Through this incident, the value and importance of the Imdang relics began to be officially recognized. In addition, the first excavation of Imdang relics in Gyeongsan was started by the Yeungnam University Museum. Starting in 1982, and continuing for the next 30 years, the entire site of the Imdang Ancient Tombs was excavated including Imdang-dong, Joyeong-dong, Bujeok-ri, Sindae-ri, and so on. This excavation disclosed that Imdang relics are the combination of large scale tombs, dwellings, wetland sites, ranging from the 2nd century B.C. to the 7th century A.D. Since the excavation, many archaeologists have been trying to find out more about the lives of the people of Apdok-kuk.

 Imdang relics are large-scale complex relics showing the life style of Apdok-kuk. The researchers identified about 1,600 tombs and various dwelling sites, and they unearthed about 25,000 artifacts that had been kept intact. Imdang relics are quite interesting in showing the lifestyle of Apdok-kuk people. For instance, usually Hwanho (ditches surrounding dwelling sites) played a various role, including defending the facility to protect the village from surrounding wildlife, and symbolic boundaries that distinguish the inside from the outside. However, Hwanho in Apdok-kuk played a special role encompassing a specific place. Also, if you look at the excavated dwelling, you can see the culture of housing and eating in Apdok-kuk. Most dwellings on the flatland are not circular. Inside the dwelling, there are wood-burning stoves and Korean floor-heating system. Pottery used for storing and cooking was discovered there, so research into the food culture was conducted by investigating various food residues in the pottery. In fact, according to research, people consumed various meats such as chicken, pig, roe deer, dogs, sharks, puffer fish, and cod.

 Tombs dating from the early Iron Age to the Unified Silla period were also discovered at the Imdang relics. Thanks to the relics, we can get invaluable information essential for the research of Silla’s power trends from the 4th century to the 6th century. We were able to discover and preserve a significant aspect of history by excavating the Imdang relics. As such, we have to pay more attention to the excavation and preservation of cultural assets like Imdang relics.



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