By Kim Eun-young and Kim Young Shin
Photos = National Museum of Korea
Relics representing Korea’s rich history and heritage from 700,000 years ago through 1910 are being displayed at the National Museum of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
The National Museum of Korea and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage through March 7 are jointly hosting the exhibition “The Enchanting Journey to Korean Civilization” in Riyadh.
The event is part of a bilateral cultural exchange that began in 2017 with the “Road of Arabia” exhibition featuring Saudi relics in Seoul.
“This exhibition is an opportunity for people in the Middle East to learn about traditional Korean culture and history,” said Bae Kidong, director general of the National Museum of Korea. “To promote Korea’s cultural heritage abroad, the museum will host special exhibitions in other parts of the world.”
The exhibition in Riyadh is also the first in the Middle East on Korean culture and history, displaying 557 items including a gold crown from Seobongchong Tomb (서봉총, 瑞鳳塚) (National Treasure No. 339) worn during the Silla era (57 B.C. – A.D. 935).
The exhibition comprises five parts in chronological order.
The first part, “The First Cultures on the Korean Peninsula,” features tools from Korea’s prehistoric era. Valuable archaeological finds are seen here such as East Asia’s first Acheulean stone hand axe discovered at the Jeongok prehistoric site and Neolithic comb-pattern pottery.
The second part, “Rising of the First State in Korea: The Bronze Age, Gojoseon and Samhan,” introduces Gojoseon, the first kingdom that emerged on the Korean Peninsula in the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Thanks to stronger tools and weapons such as the Korean-type bronze dagger, people during that era showed higher productivity and their rulers exerted more power both politically and religiously.
The third part, “Majestic Kingdoms,” is a collection of artifacts from ancient kingdoms such as Goguryeo (37 B.C.-A.D. 668), Baekjae (18 B.C.-A.D. 660) and Silla. Gold jewelry excavated from Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, a city which was the ancient capital of Silla, is featured here as well as items proving exchanges between ancient Korean kingdoms and the Arab region.
The fourth part, “Goryeo Dynasty: Era of Grace and Dignity,” focuses on the noble heritage of Goryeo (A.D. 918-1392) through celadons and metal craftworks. And the fifth and final part, “Joseon Dynasty: 500 Years of Splendor,” highlights the kingdom’s court culture and Hangeul (Korean alphabet) invented by King Sejong the Great (1397-1450).