1,500 year old Gaya Kingdom girl revealed
More from the Korea Times:
A life-size model of a young girl from the 6th-century Gaya Kingdom (42-562) was revealed in Seoul, Wednesday. The model, constructed from the “1,500-year-old’s” excavated skeletal remains, is the first of its kind in the country.
“We have excavated human bones on many occasions but it is the first time we created a full-scale model,” Kang Soon-hyung, director of the Gaya National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, was quoted as saying by the Munhwa Ilbo.
The girl, who was buried alive, is speculated to have been a 16-year-old servant to a powerful family. After adding layers of muscle and skin as well locks of hair, the model stands 1.53 meters tall. She is relatively short but is slim and has a small face ― a beauty by modern standards.
Her remains were among those of four people that were unearthed during the institute’s excavation project in Songhyeong-dong, Changnyeong-gun, South Gyeongsang Province, between 2006 and 2007. A study on Gaya’s custom of burying the living with the dead will soon be published, the institute said.
The life-size model marks the highlight of the study, in that it allows a scientific and realistic restoration of an ancient Korean. She had a short jawbone and thus had a rather wide face but had a long neck; she had short arms but long fingers and toes. She was very slim, with a waist measuring 21.5 inches, compared to the modern average of 26 inches. The upper half of her body was large compared to her lower half. It is also speculated that she knelt on her knees frequently.
The restoration is the culmination of interdisciplinary work in the fields of archaeology, forensic medicine, anatomy, genetics, chemistry and other fields two years in the making, JoongAng Daily wrote.
“We rarely find bones in such a good condition from the era because soil in Korea is really rich,” said Lee Seong-jun, a researcher at the institute. “There have been restorations, but most of them were based on the imagination. This case, however, is strictly based on medical science, somatology and statistics.”
The servant girl is thought to have spent long periods kneeling and engaging in repititious tasks cutting something with her teech, which was analyzed to estimate her age. She was found with a golden earring and is believed to have died from soffocation or poisoning. Her main diet had been rice, barley, beans as well as meat.
Various funerary customs were followed before, during and after burials. After the burial service, earthenware used in the service was either buried in the tomb or broken into pieces and buried separately near the tomb. The former practice perhaps symbolized the living’s condolences, while the latter practice may have been intended as an affront to death itself. The burial of intact earthenware implies sorrow for and dedication to the dead, while the burial of shattered earthenware suggests severance from the dead.”