Wednesday, December 14, 2011

National Museum of Korea reopens prehistory section

The National Museum of Korea in Yongsan reopens its Paleolithic Period Gallery and Neolithic Period Gallery today.

Located in the permanent Prehistory and Ancient History Section of the museum, the revamped galleries are set to display some 1,100 artifacts of which 600 items are being viewed by the public for the first time since excavation. As part of the museum’s overhaul, this effort is to provide a comprehensive historical perspective.

Kim Young-na, director of the National Museum of Korea, said the remodeling aims to add a modern touch to the exhibit.

“Stone Age men are considered primitive, but they had enough sense to overcome a barren environment. I hope the new display can explain the development of primitive culture in an easy, fun and accessible way,” Kim said at a press preview Monday.

A text timeline is supplemented by a video explaining the history of Korea and a 23-centimeter-long hand ax, excavated from a prehistoric site in Jeongok-ri, Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province, in a glass showcase lures visitors in the main gallery.

“The Jeongok-ri hand ax is important in studying the prehistory of Asia as it is the first one to be found in the East Asian region,” said Lee Jin-min, a National Museum curator.

Upon entering the Paleolithic Period Gallery, some 50 hand axes are exhibited on a map of the Korean Peninsula, based on the location they were found, in the center of the room. Other artifacts on display include large and small stone tools for various functions. The artifacts on exhibit were dug up from across the nation.

The change of climate and flora and fauna caused a transition in stoneware, seen in the Neolithic Period Gallery. The gallery features a series of earthenware bowls and jars in various shapes and patterns. There are also remnants of a boat and an oar excavated from Bibong-ri, Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, and a harpoon embedded in a whale’s spine, providing evidence Neolithic man went fishing.

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