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Agricultural Utensils

Among the key agricultural tools the Gaya used were stone mattocks, stone knives, iron mattocks, plowshares, sickles and axes.

dae pyung in jinju and rice paddles

From the Stone Age to the Bronge Age, the inhabitants of the Gaya region used rocks and wooden tools as agricultural tools. While it is true that fishing and hunting prevailed during Neolithic times, inhabitants nonetheless used stone plowshares, stone mattocks, and stone sickles, producing grains like foxtail millet , deccan grass or barnyard grass, and African or Indian millet.

When agriculture became more widespread toward the end of the Bronze Age, agriculturalists used elaborately polished plowshares, stone mattocks, crescent-shaped stone knives (Crescent-shaped stone knives ), and stone sickles to cultivate both rice paddies and grain fields.

The remains of Bronze Age grain fields excavated at Dae Pyung in Jinju and rice paddies at Ulsan and Okhyun reveal a great deal about early agriculture in these regions.

The Gaya seemed to have cultivated the land with stone plowshares and mattocks, harvesting crops with crescent-shaped stone knives and stone sickles.

The most common tool that has been unearthed is the crescent-shaped knife. The blade of the knife was sharpened on one side and the handle had two holes in it that were probably for a string or cord for grasping the object.

Stone spade crescent-shaped stone knives

Inhabitants of the Byeonhan area, where iron tools were introduced later than in other regions, began to use advanced iron tools at the beginning of the first century A.D. That flat mattocks were used as axes can be confirmed by the marks and abrasions that can be observed on the walls of the Paldal-dong excavation site at Taegu. Inhabitants also seemed to have used iron mattocks, as many blade marks on the walls appear to have come from bent or jagged metal blades. Early farmers also used long, thin iron spades for digging holes for plants or cultivating land. A spade with an attached wooden handle was found at the No.1 Daho-ri excavation site in Changweon.

Before the widespread use of iron sickles, crescent-shaped stone or iron knives served as the most efficient harvesting tool for the head of the grain plant, but with the spread of iron sickles the harvesting of grain stems also became possible. At the same time, wooden tools were probably in broad use throughout the era. Wooden mattocks, wooden scrapers, and wooden rakes were found at late Mahan sites in Sinchang-dong in Gwangju and Yangjang-ri in Muan, implying that similar tools would have also been used in the Byeonhan area.

The most important agricultural tools at this time were spades, mattocks, and sickles. Agriculture by means of spades and mattocks was the most dominant style of cultivation. Iron tools were used in certain processes of cultivation and harvest--spades and mattocks were used for planting and sickles were used for harvesting.

Although no wooden agricultural tools have yet been found, some traces of wooden implements were found in the Daepyung-ri area in Jinju. The traces suggest that wooden tools were used in grain fields. Carbonized rice, peas, sesame seeds and millet have all been found in the same regions as the tool traces.

Pressed ax Salpo spades U shaped with spade

Spades and rakes , have been excavated from wooden outer-coffin tombs and stone outer-coffin tombs built after the third century A.D.. The excavation sites are highly concentrated in the Yangdong-ri and Daesung-dong areas, showing us the prominence of Geumgwan Gaya society. Spades and rakes have been mainly excavated from large tombs, while iron mattocks and iron sickles have usually been found in tombs of less grand dimensions.

By the fourth century A.D., when flat mattocks and one-bladed spades had become obsolete, iron weeding hoes and Salpo spades began to be used. Consisting of a squared trunk and a long, thin barrel attached to it, Salpo spades are tools for watering and irrigating rice fields. A version with a metal handle was found in Hapcheon at the tomb of the King of Dara-guk.

Although plows have never been excavated in Gaya regions, many have been found in Goguryeo and Silla areas. Thus, it would be safe to assume that plowshares pulled by bulls or cows were also used in the Gaya Kingdoms. Likely the use of iron tools became standardized as such: First, the land was cultivated with plows, spades and rakes; Next, crops were maintained with iron weeding hoes and Salpo spades; and finally, crops were harvested with sickles.

While iron tools haven't been excavated in the Daegaya area, miniatures of such tools have been found in Gaya tombs of the fifth and sixth centuries at Goryeong (Jisan-dong, Bongwan-dong, and Kwaebin-dong), Hapcheon (Bangyaeje), Hamyang (Baekcheon-ri), and Namwon (Weolsan-ri). Although small in size, the miniatures appear to be exact replicas of iron weeding hoes, spades, mattocks, and sickles. This strongly suggests that iron tools were used in Daegaya's domains, which would have contributed greatly to agricultural production in the region.

Miniature salpo spades have also been excavated at sixth century stone chamber with side entrance tombs, such as the Gaeumjung-dong No.3 excavation site tomb in Changwon and the stone chamber tomb at Gusan-dong in Gimhae. However, Salpo spades seem to no longer have been buried inside tombs after the sixth century A.D. Instead, similar shapes can be found on chairs and canes bestowed from the King to special ministers and vassals as symbols of trust during the Joseon Dynasty.