Comparative Studies in the Presentation of Archaeological Sites

Article excerpt

International prehistory symposium in celebration of the declaration of the Osan-ni National Historic Monument: using Osan-ni Neolithic site as a historical site park.

The Osan-ni site has yielded the earliest Neolithic evidence from Korea. To mark the declaration of the site as a National Historic Monument and to assess options for presenting it to the visiting public, archaeologists from Korea, China, Japan and England met in Yangyang (South Korea) on 9-11 September 1997.

The Neolithic in Korea is distinguished by the establishment of settlements probably occupied permanently. The inhabitants depended on wild plant resources, on fish and, possibly from the beginning of the period, on gardening. Storage pits, ground stone implements and pottery have been recovered as well as post-built houses (Nelson 1993: chapter 4). Hitherto, the earliest of this evidence was from the west coast, where the best-known site is Amsadong, occupied 5000 years ago; but, at Osan-ni, beside a former lagoon on the east coast, Im Hyo-Jai (Seoul National University) has obtained a sequence of dates from 8000 to 3000 b.p. Buried beneath a dune, the floors of 16 houses and associated burnt mounds were found in a sample of about 2 or 3% of the site. The culture bears affinities with northeastern Korea; and, by implication from this similarity and the chronology, a historical distinction must be drawn between the east and west coasts of Korea.

Prof. Im opened the symposium with a summary of his discoveries and a lively review of site presentations in Japan, China and the USA. Hah Young-Hee (National Museum of Korea) then assessed the state of the art in studies of the Korean Neolithic. In regard to site preservation and with special reference to Amsadong, where one of the excavation trenches has been preserved and eight houses and a store reconstructed - and which is in the suburbs of Seoul - he argued that professional visitor managers are needed.

Fang Dian-Chun (Liaoning Provincial Archaeological Research Institute) described the Neolithic settlement at Chahai, in Manchuria. As at Amsadong, part of the site has been preserved, roofed, and opened for visitors; and, also like Amsadong, the insides of the walls have been painted with reconstructions of the surrounding scenery of the time of occupation (a technique recently used in England too, in the 'Preservation Hall' at Flag Fen - see below).

Prof. Nishitani Tadashi (Kyushu University) reviewed presentation for visitors at 16 sites in Japan but, for the purpose of the symposium, concentrated on the Neolithic ones. He explained that provision has developed as the effect of general economic growth since 1965. Reconstruction is a notable feature of presentation in Japan; but Prof. Im opined that some of it is designed at least as much for entertainment as for instruction.

The other two contributions reviewed provision in Europe. Prof. Choi Muh-Jang (Konkuk University) considered prehistoric sites in France. …