It is generally accepted that Gaya (伽倻) had started sometime around the beginning of AD, when several early political bodies of Goguryeo (高句麗), Baekje (百濟) and Silla (新羅) were becoming to shape to the states and existed until AD 562 when the Silla Kingdom destroyed Daegaya (大伽倻). Among some political bodies of the former stage of Three Kingdoms, Byeonhan (弁韓) is considered as the origin of Gaya. Guyaguk (狗倻國) or Garakguk (駕洛國) in Gimhae, Anyaguk or Anraguk in Haman, Banyaguk or Garaguk (駕洛國) in Goryeong region became Geumgwangaya (金官伽倻), Aragaya (阿羅伽倻), and Daegaya (大伽倻) respectively. In many basins of western Gyeongsangnam-do such as Hapcheon, Goseong, Sacheon, Jinju, and Sancheong, big or small political bodies were formed and historians call them Sogaya (小伽倻) altogether. There are many views about the political development of Gaya. Historians who favour the single union hypothesis argue that Gaya was united around Geumgwangaya before 4th century and around Daegaya after 5th century. Historians who believe the local formation hypothesis say that Gaya were a group of independent local bodies. Meanwhile, other historians who follow the ancient kingdom hypothesis say that Daegaya developed into an ancient kingdom in the late 5th century. Archeological remains and sites of Gaya are heavily concentrated in Gyeongsangnam-do area of the Korean Peninsula. Among many sites, Gimhae Daeseong-dong Tumuli and Haman Malisan Tumuli were recommended as a candidate for the World Heritage in view of their original form, preservation and management system, and the outstanding heritage value.
Ancient Tombs in Daeseong-dong, Gimhae
Daeseong-dong Tumuli located in central Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do is the cluster of tombs of kings and upper class of Geumgwangaya. It is designated as Historic Site No. 341 by the government. Until now, ten surveys have been accomplished to inspect more than 136 tombs. It has been proved that kings and rulers were buried along the ridge of the hill, and other lower civilians were buried along the slope. Various types of tombs were identified such as wood-lined burial chamber, double wood-lined burial chamber, pot-shaped coffin, double stone-lined burial chamber, stone burial chamber with horizontal corridor, stone burial chamber with horizontal entrance.
The double wood-lined burial tomb is the dominant chamber. As the tomb of the rulers of Geumgwangaya, their size is rather lager ? 9m in length and 5m in width - and both the dead and the living were buried. It was built between the late third century and the early 5th century. Many household items, ironware and horse armours which show the culture of the golden age of Gaya were excavated. Especially, a large amount of items imported from China, northern Asian countries and Japan were found. They are good source of understanding the trade between northeast Asian countries of this era and it proves the value of the heritage site as a common heritage of mankind.
The Daeseong-dong tumuli is regarded as the key treasure of early Gaya. It has extraordinary value in explaining the clue of the establishment, development, characteristic, and political and social system of Gaya.
Ancient Tombs in Marisan, Haman
This tumuli is tombs of kings and aristocrats of Aragaya located in Gaya-eup, Haman-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do. It is designated as Historic Site No, 515 by the government. The first research on the Haman Malisan area was undertaken at the 5th and 34th tombs of Malisan in 1914 and the distribution map of 52 tombs were completed in 1917. There have been about 30 excavation surveys so far. It has been proved that there are hundreds of small and medium-sized tombs around of about hundred burial mounds. The kings of Anraguk or Aragaya were buried in the large mounds in the Haman Marisan Tumuli. There are about 50 tombs which are bigger than 20m radius, and another 50 tombs are bigger than 10m. It has been proved by excavation that the structure of tombs varies reflecting the period. Beginning the wood-lined burial chamber, built sometime around AD, it developed into the large double wood-lined burial chamber over 5m in length in the fourth century, stone burial chamber with vertical entrance in the fifth century, and stone burial chamber with horizontal corridor after the sixth century. Many weapons, horse armours and accessories for kings were excavated in these areas. Especially, horse armour which was similarly depicted in the murals of Goguryeo tombs has been excavated in a perfect form at Magapchong Tomb. This is the obvious evidence that Aragaya developed into a mighty ancient kingdom based on the iron technology.
It is a distinguishing feature that there is only one burial chamber in each tomb in this area. It means that Aragaya buried the dead together with the living as attendants in the same chamber. It makes a difference with Daegaya, which has multi burial chambers for the living as attendants.