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Remains of Ancient Human Sacrifices in Korea Found Beneath the Walls of Wolseong Palace

May 18, 2017 10:39 AM EDT
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Human sacrifices is a taboo nowadays, but as evidence suggests, it was largely part of the ancient culture in different nations. Recently, remains of ancient human sacrifices were discovered under the walls of a Korean castle.

First Evidence of Human Sacrifice

Two sets of skeletons possibly from the 5th century were unearthed under the walls of the Wolseong Palace (Moon Castle) in Gyeongju in South Korea, according to Seoul's Cultural Heritage Administration. The area is known as the former capital of the Silla kingdom.

"This is the first archaeological evidence that folklore about humans being sacrificed for the foundations of buildings, dams or walls were true stories," Choi Moon-Jung, spokeswoman for the Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, said in an interview.

Willing Human Sacrifices in Ancient Korea

In ancient Korean cultures, living victims are buried to serve the dead king in the afterlife, according to a report. However, the death or the context of the burial of the two human sacrifices in the Wolseong Palace is still unknown. Authorities have already started more research to look into the ancient human sacrifices found beneath the walls of the ancient Korean castle. What was discovered is that the remains found were not likely buried alive.

"Judging from the fact that there are no signs of resistance when they were buried, they must have been buried when they were unconscious or dead," senior researcher Park Yoon-Jung said in a statement. "Folklore indicates humans were sacrificed to appease gods and plead with them to ensure the structures being built lasted a long time."

Despite that, interesting evidence shows intriguing details. The skeletons were discovered side by side under the western wall of the Wolseong Palace. The first skeleton is facing upward while the other is slightly facing towards the first one with arms slightly inclined towards the other victim.

Today, DNA tests were being conducted on the remains to try and identify characteristics, health, diet and other attributes. Meanwhile, the cultural treasures found in the Gyeongju historical site serve as a major tourist attraction in Korea.

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