A study of the Boseong River Valley culture
Kim, Gyongtaek, 1964-
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Kim, Gyongtaek, 1964-
This dissertation explores the development of sociopolitical complexity in southwest Korea's Boseong River Valley. One of the main archaeological tasks currently being pursued in Korea is charting the emergence of complex society there. This dissertation comprehensively reviews the issues and history of research on the subject, then embarks on an analysis of the trajectory towards complexity in a selected region of southwest Korea. A large scale archaeological project in the Boseong River Valley during the 1980s rescued a huge corpus of data threatened by the construction of the Juam Dam project, which has remained undigested, never sufficiently organized or analyzed. I draw on this corpus, organizing and analyzing the data it yields on burial practices and settlement distribution, because these categories of information are particularly useful in examining key research issues. The burial excavations were of unprecedented scope, with 38 1 dolmen graves identified and investigated in 23 locations. Many dolmens have been observed and investigated in Korea, but an excavation sample of this size is unique and presents a rare analytical opportunity. A quantitative analysis of burial furnishings from these dolmens identifies five categories that reflect differing social statuses. Charting the distribution of such burials within the region allows the mapping of zones differentially occupied by persons of varying social status, and the places on the landscape where elite personages were situated. Comparing these patterns with the occurrence of large and small settlements strengthens a picture of a class-differentiated society within the region. Based on this analysis, I conclude that the dolmen period society of the Boseong River Valley had advanced to an intermediate level of sociopolitical complexity. In conclusion, the archaeological evidence is discussed with reference to historical events in the region, as these are known from ancient Chinese and Korean chronicles, to propose an interpretation of the growth of cultural development in the Boseong River Valley in relation to broader developments in southern Korea.
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