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Human and Animall Sacrifice

typeⅢ tombs

Gaya tombs provide numerous examples of live human and animal burials.

Human and animal sacrifices were among the burial rites of many ancient cultures. Sacrifices, usually of low status individuals such as slaves, were performed at high status burials for members of royal families or high-ranking officials. Sacrificial offerings of this type were practiced in such diverse places as Egypt, the Near East, and China, and were likely associated with a belief in an afterlife.

Sanguozi, a Chinese historical document, records an example of sacrificial burial in the ancient Korean kingdom of Buyeo. The Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms, a Korean historical record, mentions how King Jijeung prohibited such practices. King Jijeung's moratorium on sacrifices suggests that the practice was fairly widespread to that point in time. Archaeological evidence from Gayan tombs indicates that sacrifices were relatively common, but they are not mentioned in the historical record.

Several types of archaeological evidence reveal the existence of sacrifices. When two or more burials are present in a tomb or several tombs, the satellite burials were likely sacrifices. By analyzing the tomb's layout and burial accessories, as well as by using various dating methods, it is possible to determine whether or not two or more bodies were buried contemporaneously. If the burials are proven contemporaneous, then evidence of human sacrifice may also be found in the form of the use of force during burials--for instance, fractures to the skull or neck of a body or a twisted skeletal position.. Status differentiation among entombed individuals-determined by analyzing tomb layout or burial accessories--may also indicate sacrifices.

In Korea, human sacrifices were mainly found in Silla and Gaya areas, although Gaya appears to have practiced the ritual more often. Tombs with human sacrifices may be classified into three types. Type I tombs, also known as Geumgwan-gaya type tombs, contain human sacrifices in both the main tomb chamber and satellite tomb chambers. Type II, also known as the Ara-gaya type, has human sacrifices only in the main tomb chamber. Type III, or the Dae-gaya type, has live burials only in the satellite tombs or tomb chambers.

typeⅠ tombs

Type I tombs consist typically of a main tomb chamber for high status occupants that also contains human sacrifices, as well as a satellite tomb chamber containing burial accessories and/or human sacrifices. In the main tomb chamber, the sacrifices are placed close to the head and feet of the deceased high status individual. In the satellite chamber, sacrifices may lie among grave accessories. The Daeseong-dong Tombs in Gimhae provide a classic example of Type I burials. Type I tombs containing three to five human sacrifices have also been found in Geumgwan-gaya and Silla areas--for example, at the Bokcheon-dong Tombs in Busan, Hwangnamnaechong Tomb in Gyeongju, and the Imdang-dong Tombs in Gyeongsan.

Type II, or Ara-gaya type tombs, have only one tomb chamber under a large mound, with primary burials and human sacrifices interred together. The primary burial is positioned at the center of the tomb chamber with the sacrificial victims placed at the head and feet. This type of burial has only been found in the Haman area, such as at the Dohang-ri Tombs. Tomb No. 8 at Dohang-ri has a stone chamber with vertical access. The primary burial was positioned centrally within this chamber with five human sacrificial victims positioned near the foot area of the main coffin. Tomb No. 34 at Dohang-ri is the largest tomb in Haman County. It contains six victims positioned in a similar way.

Type III tombs, or Dae-gaya type tombs, have one or more separate satellite chambers for human sacrifices, with a separate main chamber for the primary burial, which may also have further sacrifices positioned in the area below the main coffin.. This type of sacrificial tomb has been found in Goryeong, Hapcheon, and Hamyang, the areas formerly known as Dae-gaya.

Until now tombs with multiple chambers for human sacrifices have been found only at Jisan-ri, Goryeong County, the former center of Dae-gaya. Tomb No. 44 at Jisan-ri, the largest of this type, has one main chamber containing a centrally positioned primary burial and two separate votive chambers; thirty-two sacrificial tombs surround the main tomb complex. The tomb is thought to contain up to thirty- six human sacrifices in all; one each at the foot and head ends of the main coffin, one in each of the votive chambers, and thirty-two in the sacrificial chambers. Sacrificial victims at this tomb include both males and females, and vary in age between ten and fifty years. Position and orientation within the tomb also vary considerably. In one of the satellite chambers a male and female were buried together but laid in opposite directions (i.e. head to toe). Another chamber contained only girls of approximately ten years of age, while yet another contained both adults and young females.

Burial accessories and corpse location reveal a great deal about the status of the deceased or their role in society. Sacrificial burials within the main chamber are frequently buried with precious jewelry, such as gold earrings and glass bead necklaces. In life (and death) the sacrificed individuals may have been the close personal servants of the main occupant of the tomb. The sacrificial burials within the votive chambers may have been the guards or attendants of the main occupant. Artifacts in satellite tombs indicate the deceased's position in society and include furniture, agricultural implements, weaving tools, and weapons.

Evidence of sacrificial burials has been mainly found in large tombs and tomb complexes. Such tombs belonged to the upper echelons of society and included royal family members and officials. The number of accompanying sacrificial burials, along with the size and complexity of tomb, confirm the power and status of the individual for whom the tomb was built. All of the above practices also perhaps served to legitimate stratification within society.

As social systems developed, the practice of using live human burials was gradually replaced by the burial of human and animal clay figurines. This substitution took place earlier in the Goguryeo and Baekje Kingdoms than in the Gaya Confederation, indicating perhaps a degree of social conservatism in Gaya.