Animal Bones and Grains Excavated at Koguryŏ Walled Site in Kyŏnggi Province


Figure 1: Animal bones recovered from Horogoru.


As a result of archaeological excavations conducted at the Horogoru 瓠蘆古壘 site, the remains of a Koguryŏ walled fort dating to the Three Kingdoms period located at Yŏnch'ŏn in Kyŏnggi Province, a number of animal bones and carbonized grains were found at the precipice of a basaltic formation in the northern part of the Imjin River.

The Land Museum ( 토지박물관 , Cho Yu-jŏn, Director) recently published the report of the second series of excavations conducted at Horogoru last year in a volume titled “Yŏnch'ŏn Horogoru III” ( 연천 호로고루 III ). The report prominently noted the find of an “underground storehouse” formed by digging a square-shaped pit some three meters deep.

Figure 2: Carbonized grains recovered from Horogoru.

According to the report, bones of at least six kinds of animals, including cow, horse, dog, deer, wild boar and roe deer, as well as large quantities of carbonized grains of rice, millet, bean and red-bean were discovered inside the underground storehouse, which was composed of four walls made of stones and a floor lined with logs. In particular, the nearly complete skeletal remains of a horse were found at the site.

The director said that the animal bones and grains in the storehouse had probably been stored as provisions for Koguryŏ soldiers who were stationed at the fort over a long period.

Sim Kwang-ju, the head curator of the Land Museum , additionally remarked that the excavation of such a great quantity of animal bones and carbonized grains is unparalleled in Koguryo excavation history.

As a result of the second series of excavations, it is believed that Horogoru was originally constructed by Koguryoŏ as a wooden palisade in the late-fifth or early-sixth century and was later reconstructed as a stone-built fortification in the process of establishing a new line of defense along the Imjin River after losing the Han River valley to Silla in the mid-sixth century.

Figure 3: Aerial view of the Horogoru site.


Since a considerable quantity of Silla remains were also found at this site, it is pointed out that after the fall of Koguryŏ the fort was possibly used by Silla as a strategic base during its territorial competition with Tang.

Horogoru has yielded the most diverse and the greatest number of roof tiles among the more than forty Koguryŏ walled sites so far investigated in South Korea , and the discovery last year of a tile end with floral patterns drew special scholarly attention.

Other artifacts recovered from this site include earthen vessels inscribed with such characters as kwan ( 官 ) and chung ( 中 ) , crown-shaped earthenware, ink slabs, hoja (toilet vessels for men), and balance scale weights.

Figure 4: Underground Storehouse found at Horogoru


Director Cho said that even from the results achieved to date it is obvious that Horogoru was a highly important Koguryŏ site, and he expects that through continuing close investigations solutions would be found for many of the mysteries of Korea 's ancient history.


A newspaper article (in Korean) is HERE