[Vol. 21 No. 1] KEYHOLE-SHAPED TOMBS IN THE YŎNGSAN RIVER BASIN: A REFLECTION OF PAEKCHE-YAMATO RELATIONS IN THE LATE FIFTH– EARLY SIXTH CENTURY

Title
Title KEYHOLE-SHAPED TOMBS IN THE YŎNGSAN RIVER BASIN: A REFLECTION OF PAEKCHE-YAMATO RELATIONS IN THE LATE FIFTH– EARLY SIXTH CENTURY
Author
Author

Dennis Lee

Volume

Vol. 21 No. 1

Pages

pp. 113~135 (all 23 pages) 

Publication Date

2018.06.15

Keyword

Early Korean-Japanese Relations, Paekche, Yamato, Yŏngsan River Basin

Abstract

Keyhole-shaped tombs were originally thought to only exist on the Japanese archipelago and to mark the hegemony of the early Japanese Empire. The discovery of keyhole-shaped tombs on the southwestern Korean peninsula in the Yŏngsan River basin reignited the debate on the nature of the relationship between early “Korean” and “Japanese” polities between the fourth–seventh centuries CE. Questions about the identity of those buried in the “Korean” keyhole-shaped tombs became a hot topic: Were they Paekche? Japanese or Wa? Or Mahan? These tombs only appeared for a single generation in the late fifth–early sixth century in a region that was quickly adopting influences from Paekche and the Japanese archipelago until the region was absorbed by Paekche by the early sixth century. Based on the limited textual evidence, I argue that Paekche’s move south in 475 and the instability of the Yamato court in the late fifth and early sixth centuries created opportunities for the local elites in the Yŏngsan River basin to make connections with both Paekche, Yamato, and other regional elites in northern Kyushu to create an eclectic and multicultural environment that gave rise not only to keyhole-shaped tumuli but also to other burial innovations in the Yŏngsan River basin.

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