Paleolithic Archaeology in Korea

  • Kidong BaeEmail author


This chapter offers an overview of the Paleolithic assemblages found in the Korean Peninsula. In Korea, the Kŏmŭnmoru site is often claimed to be the oldest site on record, possibly dating to the late Lower Pleistocene on basis of biological analysis, but the Chŏn´gokni site has been substantiated as the oldest site currently dated in Korea at about 400,000 BP. Fossils of Homo sapiens have been found in limestone caves mostly in North Korea, but few can be dated to the Middle Pleistocene in age. The Early Paleolithic Age in Korea is often represented by the Chŏn´goknian industry, in which Acheulean-typed bifaces are included along with simple heavy-duty tools such as choppers, and polyhedrals without extensive secondary retouches. The Late Paleolithic in Korea is recognizable by the presence of blade technology on siliceous raw materials, probably diffused from Inner Mongolia and Siberia around 40,000 BP; however, conventional flake-based industries consistently appear until the final stage of the Late Paleolithic. The ‘North and South hypothesis’ of population influx has been suggested as an explanation of the heterogenic tradition of the Late Paleolithic in the peninsula. Smaller tools with extensive secondary retouches are often observed in stone industries exposed in well-preserved contexts in upper units of stratigraphy of sites. Tang point , as a typical tool type, appears at the same time, in the beginning of the Late Paleolithic, and throughout the Late Paleolithic. Microblade technology appeared around 25,000 BP and persisted until turn of Holocene when Neolithic settlement emerged in aquatic environment.


Early and Late Paleolithic Korean Peninsula Chŏńgoknian Acheulean-typed biface Microblade Tang point North and south hypothesis 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyHanyang UniversityAnsanKorea

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