Archaeological sites throughout Korea suggest that primitive humans inhabit the peninsula as early as 500,000 B.C. The well-excavated site at Sokchangni gives conclusive evidence of Late Paleolithic settlements, dating back to 30,000 B.C., that use a variety of crude stone tools to hunt and fish. The Ice Age and subsequent rise in sea level seem to obliterate these early populations, though some evidence may exist of late Mesolithic communities along the coast. The culture of the Neolithic Period passes through three distinct phases of development, each with its representative form of pottery. During the last of these three phases, agricultural methods are developed. As early as the ninth century B.C. northern cultures begin to use bronze in the manufacture of weapons and other items. These cultures develop a more advanced social organization that is the forerunner of the tribal federations that emerge in the fourth century B.C. Chief among these federations is Old Choson, which occupies much of the Liao and Taedong river basins. After a period of decline, Old Choson falls to Wiman, an exile from the Yan state in northern China. Wiman proves to be a strong ruler, but his ambitious program of expansion eventually brings him into conflict with the Han dynasty of China. The Han defeats Wiman Choson and establishes a protectorate over northern Korea in 108 B.C. Resistance to Chinese hegemony, however, is strong, and China reduces the territory under its active control to Nangnang (Luolang) colony with an administrative center near modern P'yongyang.
500,000B.C.: According to radiocarbon testing of primitive tools found at Sokchangni (near Kongju) and Sangwon (near P'yongyang), the Korean peninsula begins to be inhabited about this time.
100,000–40,000B.C.: Pre-Neanderthal and Neanderthal humans appear on the Korean peninsula. Evidence found in caves at Chommal (near Chechon) and Turubong (near Chongju) suggests a cave-dwelling culture that hunts, fishes, and gathers nuts and other vegetation. Small figurines found at these sites suggest the beginnings of an animistic faith.
30,000–20,000B.C.: The upper layers of the Sokchangni excavation site show a more ad-