A Study of Past Research on Sŏngsan Fortress Wooden Tablets and an Examination of Exacavated Wooden Tablet Documents

A Study of Past Research on Sŏngsan Fortress Wooden Tablets and an Examination of Exacavated Wooden Tablet Documents


  • Journal title: International Journal of Korean History
  • ISSN: 1598-2041 (print) 2508-5921 (online)
  • Publisher: Korea University, Center for Korean History
  • Country of publisher: korea, republic of
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/May/12

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: History
  • Publisher's keywords: Sǒngsan Fortress in Haman, mokkan, wooden tablets, hach’al, labels, munsǒ mokkan, wooden tablet documents, mandate, fundamental laws, and statute labor
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Nari Kang



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This paper examines past research on wooden tablets (mokkan) excavated from Sŏngsan Fortress in Haman and attempts to provide a new interpretation of wooden tablet documents (munsŏ mokkan) that have been recently discovered. Up until last year (2016), a total of 314 wooden tablets have been excavated from Sŏngsan Fortress in Haman. They were produced in various regions around the mid-sixth century. Most were wooden tablet labels (hach’al mokkan), which contained the following information in the same format: “place name, person’s name, item, and the amount of items.” The place names found on the wooden tablets were under the jurisdiction of Sangju (上州), showing that Silla administered the territories that once belonged to Kaya and collected taxes from different regions, which were brought to Haman through the waterways of the Nakdong River. The discovery of additional wooden tablets has advanced the understanding of the structure and nature of ch’on (village, 村) as well as the meaning of “負” (pu), and intensified the debate on the nature of noin (奴人). It was also possible to speculate on the state of society in Silla through the recently discovered wooden tablets, 17-No. 1 and Chajŏn-No. 221. This study was able to confirm that “taebŏp” (代法) was a stipulation on the length of statute labor workers performed for each rotation, and that workers were mobilized for the construction of Sŏngsan Fortress for 60 days at a time. Moreover, this study speculates that the labor mobilization system, whose basic unit was ch’on, was already established in the mid-sixth century, and that the document administration of regional governments in Silla were in practice as well.

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