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 Kingdom 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 GayaConfederacy (42-562 CE) was cultivated through the abundant iron resources available in the mid- to lower regions of the Nakdonggang, formerly Byeonhan territory. In its early stages, Gaya was centered around Geumgwan Gaya in the Gimhae area of Gyeongsangnam-do, which became a hub for international trade, providing iron to Nangnang and ancient Japan via sea routes. In the late 3rd century CE, the region increased its power by beginning to embrace the northern civilization, causing the center of activity to push northward to Dae Gaya in the Goryeong area of Gyeongsangbuk-do. Excavations of Gaya sites have yielded pottery inscribed with the “Great King” (大王), as well as flamboyant gold crowns, demonstrating that the state was strong enough to compete against Silla and Baekje.
Gaya culture is characterized by stone chamber tombs that were dug vertically, various pottery with smooth curves, a proliferation of iron objects and weapons, and gold and silver inlaid techniques. In particular, artifacts excavated from Gaya tombs in Daeseong-dong (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do); Dohang-ri (Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do); Okjeon (Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do); and Jisan-ri (Goryeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do) illustrate the magnificence of Gaya culture.