Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2020 Volume XXVI

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2020.26.548-555

УДК 903.5

Cave Burials of the Neolithic and Paleometal Period in the South of Korea and in Japan: Characteristic of the Funeral Rite and Cultural Contacts

Nesterkina A.L., Solovyeva E.A.

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Since ancient times, caves have attracted people not only as a living space, but also as a place for burials. The study of cave burials in the south of Korea and in Japan helps revealing similarities in funeral rites and worldview of the population of these territories, as well as to trace the direction of cultural contacts. The purpose of this work is a comparative analysis of burial complexes in the caves in the south of the Korean Peninsula and in the territory of the Japanese archipelago. It has been established that the tradition of the cave burials in the indicated territories demonstrates a similar line of development: having appeared in the Neolithic and existed until the Bronze Age, cave burials disappear and reappear in the early Middle Ages in the form of burials in horizontal chambers (artificial caves). Early cave burials were made in shallow earth pits. They are collective and secondary. The complex of burial items suggests that burials were made by groups of the population, which are characterized by an appropriative type of economy. Such burials could be accompanied by ritual actions with the use of fire. The close similarity of burials in horizontal chambers (artificial caves) of the early Middle Ages in southern Korea and the Kofun period in Japan indicates the existence of active migration flows from the south of the Korean Peninsula to western and central Japan at that time. The similarity of the worldview of the population in the south of Korea and Japan, who left burials in caves, is evidenced by the presence of plots associated with the caves in the mythological texts of both territories. The myths and legends in which the caves are mentioned do not demonstrate a direct connection with the funeral rite, but indicate that the caves were sacred ritual objects associated with cosmogonic ideas.


Korea, Japan, caves, burials, funeral rites, the Neolithic age, the Bronze age, the early Middle Ages

Chief Editor
Academician A.P. Derevyanko

Deputy Chief Editor
Academician V.I. Molodin

17, Аkademika Lavrentieva prosp., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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