via, November 17, 2007

Super-sized Roof Tiles of Unified Silla Discovered


Over 350 super-sized roof tiles produced during the Unified Silla period (668-935) have been excavated, the largest weighing 20 kilograms.

The Land Museum ( 토지박물관 , Cho Yu-jŏn, Director ) announced the discovery of a pit for storing super-sized roof tiles and a large-scale building site, both belonging to the Unified Silla period, during archaeological excavations conducted at Namhan mountain fortress at Kwangju in Kyŏnggi Province. The excavation team said that convex and concave roof tiles were found separately sorted and stacked in orderly fashion within the tile storage facility, which had been formed by digging a pit, and that concave tiles on the average weighed about 15 kilograms and convex tiles about 10 kilograms.


However, the team pointed out that among these tiles were more than ten super-sized tiles measuring 64 centimeters in length and 4-5 centimeters in thickness, and the heaviest concave tile weighs 19 kilograms and the heaviest convex tile 14 kilograms. These are believed to be the largest roof tiles known for this period not only in Korea but in China and Japan as well. Sim Kwang-ju, head curator of the Land Museum , said that the Han-period roof tiles discovered at Xi'an in China were only 57 centimeters in length and till now were considered to be the largest in the world.

Since the remains of a large-scale building belonging to the Unified Silla period was found immediately adjacent to the storage pit, the excavation team surmised that the stored tiles were originally prepared as replacement tiles for this building but were never used. The front of this building site measures 53.5 meters in length and is composed of fourteen compartments ( k'an ), while the sides measure 17.5 meters with four compartments, making it the largest building site ever discovered within a mountain fortress of Unified Silla. The building had been destroyed by fire, and radiocarbon dating shows that it was in use from the late-seventh century to the early-tenth century.

The team said that considering all factors, such as the use of large roof tiles of unparalleled size, the large scale of the building site and the results of radiocarbon dating, the site may be related to Chujang-sŏng 晝長城 fortress, which was built in the twelfth year of the reign of King Munmu (672), when Silla was experiencing a remarkable period of prosperity just after the collapse of Koguryŏ.


A newspaper article (in Korean) is HERE