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General Survey

Gaya-guk's development was based on advanced iron-making technology and active trade.

Bronze mirrors

The Basis of Gaya's Development

The Garakguk-led early Gaya Confederation was able to develop by the third century mainly because of its advantageous geographical position as a seaport. Records from Wiseo Waeinjeon in Samguk-ji on the third century and from Taekriji on the late Joseon era reveal how Gimhae was able to accept traffic from every port in the west and from the south coast by the slow sea route, and was positioned to connect with almost every inland region from the mouth of the Nakdong River. In addition, Gimhae was also a departure point for Japan: By just merely crossing over the straits of Korea, travelers could reach Chusima and northern Gyusyu.

This importance of Gimhae as a seaport has been proven not only by historical records but by ancient artifacts excavated in the present-day Gimhae City region--bronze mirrors from China, osujeon (a Chinese currency), hajiki from Japan, and jasper arrowheads. So, we can say that Gimhae's Garak-guk was a major center of trade that connected the Chinese counties of Nakrang-gun and Daebang-gun to each region of the Korean Peninsula and even to the Japanese Islands.

Another reason for Gaya's development can be attributed to the many iron-producing districts that existed in this area. The geography section of the work Sejong-silrok, from the early days of the Joseon era, records iron production at Gimhae's Gammulya Village and Changwon's Bulmu Mountain, and mentions an iron mine at Hapcheon Yaro. Moreover, Wiseo Dongijeon in Samguk-ji mentions the iron of Byeonhan, which was considered famous as it was used in such disparate places as Han (the southern part of Korea), Ye (the northeastern part of Korea), Wa (Japan), and Nakrang and Daebang in China.

Hajiki Jasper arrowheads Axes Ingot
The fact that many flat iron-axes and iron by-products have been excavated in large wooden containers in tombs in Changwon, Gimhae, Busan, and surrounding areas further confirms the existence of abundant iron mine resources in the region. Gimhae's Garak-guk possessed advanced iron-making technology and produced large amounts of iron, both of which contributed greatly to the Gaya Confederation's development as a center of long-distance foreign trade.