Amsa-dong Neolithic Site

Amsa-dong Neolithic Site is a dwelling where the ancestors of the Neolithic age lived about 6000 years ago, which is the largest among cliff dwelling sites from the Neolithic age that have been revealed in Korea.

※ An application to list the site as a UNESCO World Heritage is being made.

This historical site shows the medley of two cultures from two different ages, as it is located close to the non-decorative arthenware site of the Bronze age, which came right after the Neolithic age.

The site is the only and most precious historic one in revealing the development of Korea’s prehistoric culture with archeological materials that prove the advent of farming culture, which were excavated there.

With many pieces of comb-patterned potteries uncovered as the deluge in 1925 made the sand hills along the Hangang River heavily cave in, the Amsa-dong Prehistoric site was first recognized as a representative site of the Neolithic age.

Pit dwelling sites and ancillary structures thereof have been found after a great deal of investigations undertaken by a university-associated excavation team in 1967, by an investigation team from the College of Education, Seoul National University in 1968, by the National Museum of Korea from 1971 through 1975, and by Seoul National University in 1983.

The Bronze age and Baekje relics as well as comb-patterned potteries and stone tools were excavated later with a series of additional excavation investigations.

This site was designated as Historic Site No. 267 on July, 26th, 1979.

Starting from excavation investigations from 1981 through 1988, it has been extended into the cultural property protection area with a size of 78,133㎡.

Furthermore, dugout huts of the Neolithic age have been restored through 9 restorations, and a primitive life exhibition center has been founded.

Being equipped with accommodations, including parking lots and walking paths for users’ convenience, the center has been open to the public since August in 1988.

You will be able to experience primitive life by visiting Seoul’s Amsa-dong Prehistoric Settlement Site.

The Prehistoric site in Amsa-dong is the first Neolithic age settlement site known in Korea.

It is presumed to be dated at about 4000-3000 B.C based on a radiocarbon dating method.

It was common in the Neolithic age to dig ground deeply and build strong dugout huts for dwelling.

The economy of Korea in the Neolithic age was not a complete production economy but one that depended on hunting, gathering, and fishing.

Therefore, most facilities were simple structures rather than big storage facilities.

In the Amsa-dong Prehistoric site, located around the Hangang River, living meant mainly relying on fishing.

This is backed by fishing net sinkers, harpoons and other fishing tools excavated from the site, and arrowheads discovered at the site show that hunting was done at the hills in the vicinity as well.

The discovery of acorns, saddle querns and grinding pestles revealed that the staple food in that era was acorns, and farming tools excavated from the site are the proof that upland farming was performed in part in the same period.

Dwellings in the Neolithic age were usually dugout huts although caves were sometimes used.

A dugout hut is a house built in a way that a pit in a regular size and shape was dug into the ground to use underground as a bottom of the house, and that the rafters of it were directly put on the ground without separate walls inside of the pit.

A dugout hut in this era was constructed at the waterfront of hillsides or on the ground around large rivers.

A pit was dug out first at 50-100cm in depth and in a shape of a circle with a diameter of 4-6m or a square with trimmed edges.

Then, the pit was covered by a roof after internal structures, including hearths, were installed.

The hearth was usually structured at the center with a rim in a shape of a circle, an ellipse or a rectangle made of piling stones or clay.

It was used for heating and cooking. Grass or animal skins were presumably laid on a floor of a hearth, which usually had no structure or was made of trampled mud.

As a roof, rafters were put around a pit and one side of their edges were gathered and tied together above the center of the pit to form a frame.

It would be covered with underwood branches, common reeds or silver grasses woven in between above the rafters.

It is estimated that 2-3 people lived in a small dugout hut, and 5-6 people in a big one.

Earthenware discovered from the site is jeulmun, or comb-patterned, pottery which is one of the most representative potteries from the Neolithic age in Korea.

The earthenware is basically a combination of mica powder or asbestos and talc, and it is made in a way that each earthen rim was separately made and the rims were piled up one by one.

It has a straight-lipped and alf-egg shape with a pointed or round bottom.

The color is soft brown and is diverse in terms of decoration: lattice-pattern, herringbone-pattern, or non-decorative varieties.

Comb-patterned potteries have been found across the Korean peninsula.

The area can be divided into 4 cultural areas: northeastern, northwestern, Midwestern and southern Korea.

Pointed-bottom potteries were mainly found in the Midwestern part, flat-bottom ones in the northeastern part, and round-bottom ones in the southern part.

Pointed-bottom earthenware looks like an egg of which the top half has been cut out.

Among stone tools excavated from Amsa-dong Prehistoric site, stone arrowheads, stone axes, pestles, scrapers, saddle querns and grinding pestles are main tools which are believed to have been used for hunting animals and peeling off their skin.

It is also assumed that pestles were used for grinding animal bones or nuts, and saddle querns and grinding pestles were used for grinding acorns and other nuts to make them into a powder.

※ Reference: Gangdong-gu Magazine 2002

Tips for Visiting