The Prehistory and Ancient History section displays artifacts that represent some of the earliest evidence of Korean civilization and culture, from stone tools of the Paleolithic age to gold jewelry of the Silla Dynasty to stone monoliths of the Balhae era, with each room documenting those aspects which uniquely defined each of Korea’s different periods of ancient history.
The GoguryeoKingdom (37 BCE – 668 CE) arose along the middle reaches of the Amnok (Yalu) River. By conquering neighboring regions, the kingdom eventually encompassed a huge area, from the LiaoRiver to the central part of the KoreanPeninsula. While maintaining its own cultural tradition, Goguryeo also actively embraced diverse cultures from China, as well as Central and Northern Asia. Thus, Goguryeo culture is both dynamic and practical, and it exerted tremendous influence on Baekje (18 BCE – 660 CE), Silla (57 BCE – 676 CE) and Gaya (42-562 CE), and even crossed the sea into Japan.
Tomb murals of Goguryeo are among the internationally recognized cultural legacies of Korea. The most frequent themes of the murals are daily customs, decorative patterns, and the guardian deities of the four directions.
Goguryeo culture passed on to Unified Silla (676-935 CE) and Balhae (698-926 CE), and thus formed the backbone of Korean culture.