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Game Pieces and Jewelry Found in Silla Tomb in South Korea

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—The Yonhap News Agency reports that black, grey, and white stones for playing the game Go, and ornaments decorated with the wings of jewel beetles, were recovered from a tomb in Jjoksaem, which is located in the southern Korean city of Gyeongju, the capital of the Silla kingdom from 57 B.C. to A.D. 935. These items and other artifacts in the tomb, including a gilt-bronze crown and gold pendants, earrings, a chest ornament, and a knife with silver decorations, suggest the tomb’s occupant was a female member of the royal family. Sim Hyeon-cheol of the Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage said the tomb’s occupant is thought to have stood just under five feet tall, although no actual bones remain. “There is a possibility that the [tomb’s owner] is an underaged person as the size of the accessories are overall smaller than those found at other ancient tombs,” he explained. The stones for playing Go, a game known as “baduk” in Korea, are usually found in elite men’s tombs, Sim added. “While it’s not academically proved, we can assume that women could also have enjoyed playing baduk,” he said. To read about more finds from Silla-era tombs, go to "Mysterious Golden Sacrifice."

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