The two Koreas’ joint excavation project at Kaesong, on the Northern side of the DMZ has completed their scheduled six months of research yesterday, which culminated in the discovery of a new piece of metal type.
The team released its new findings, including a metal type piece from the Koryo Dynasty that appears to date back to before 1361, when the Monwoldae palace was burned by the Red Turban invasion of China.
Choi Gwang-sik, chief of the Council of South and North Historians, unveiled the results of the inter-Korean project’s longest stretch of work since it began in 2006.
“The metal type, excavated from the southern part of Manwoldae’s western sites discovered on November 14, was particularly remarkable,” Choi told journalists.
The Chinese character appears to be 嫥, which means “constant,” “sole” or “lovely,” but requires further research, such as carbon dating and component analysis, for confirmation.
“This is a well-(designed) character, and a different type from the one found in 1956 from Manwoldae,” Choi said, explaining the round hole in the back of the metal type is Koryo’s style, one not found in Joseon.
The piece was found 20-30 centimeters under the topsoil, and researchers filtered the soil then cleaned it with water. Choi said it is too early to confirm its date, though it is obviously from the Koryo Dynasty.
The same kind of hole is also found in another piece of metal type found in the palace in 1956.
“In the late 1990s, a Northern guard found a small metal piece at the west side of Manwoldae, but threw it away into the streams surrounding the palace, not being aware of the connection.”
There are only two pieces of existing Koryo metal type, one in the South and one in the North, which date back one century earlier than Gutenberg’s metal type. The press release from the council describes the newly found piece as more sophisticated than the past two pieces, and created with the highest quality.
The existence of metal type from the palace site has been suggested.
“The recent metal type was found based on North Korea’s past discovery in 1956, near the Shinbong gate of the palace,” said Choi.
Researcher Park Seong-jin, who participated in the excavation, said the exact site is not clear, making it difficult to establish a relationship to the recent finding.
Experts added that more comparable examples are needed to investigate a specific period via follow-up excavations on a regular basis.
The joint excavation excavated porcelain, mainly from mid-Koryo period, and various kinds of roof tiles carved with dragon, lotus, twin birds and phoenix designs. The council aims at elongating the excavation period next year and organizing a joint academic event based on their research together.
Featured Image: Council of South and North Historians