Emergence of Shilla as a centralized kingdom

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
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#21
So did Silla have their origins in nomadic tribes like the Xiongnu as some have apparently proposed? That seems very far fetched.
No not at all. The archaeological predecessors are in the settled agricultural Mumun culture with some influx from the northwest such as P'yongan-Hwanghae and Liaodong.

That claim of Xiongnu ancestry was political, trying to curry Tang's favor by claiming descent from a guy who had once served in the Chinese court.
 
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#22
So did Silla have their origins in nomadic tribes like the Xiongnu as some have apparently proposed? That seems very far fetched.


Here, Dr. Nelson who specializes in the area of history discusses Shilla in relation to the Dongbei at 6:00. I recommend you watch from beginning however since it's a very interesting interview with a knowledgeable expert from the Western academia on the topic.
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,664
United States
#23
Fascinating interview. I actually have one of her books, The Archaeology of Korea.

She's from an older generations of researchers; note that she mentions the Altaic theory which is no longer very accepted. Also attributing all developments to outside influence is an older concept that is not very held anymore (except by Korean researchers so they can fit the archaeological data into the traditional historical narrative).

There is some debate as to exactly how much of Iron Age Korean culture is from outside and how much is from local development, but it appears to be some mix. I'm not aware of anything that specifically ties the Kim clan to the Xianbei other than the (frankly very tenuous) connection she made. So far as I know the only evidence for outside influence comes from China, Hwanghae-P'yongan, Japan, and Liaodong. I get the impression she's just kind of throwing out ideas and theories and speculations, not getting much into the nitty gritty. However I have seen her posit similar views though much more vague in her book that I have.

There is evidence of an increase in militarism, including horse armor and equipment, during the mid to late Iron Age (c. 2nd-3rd centuries AD) but I'm not aware of anything that ties them to a specific historical culture such as the Xianbei.

As for the origin of the Kim clan, I really don't think the name means "gold" but probably comes from the older Korean word kŭm meaning "chief, king". The surnames for the royal clans are generally understood to have been given no earlier than the late fifth century which was long after the Kim clan was indeed the king's clan. I speculate the clans were probably originally called after their home villages.

I'm open to the idea, though I think we need a lot of evidence before we can throw out what we already know. Why and how would Xianbei nomads travel across thousands of miles of strange (and probably hostile) territory and settle in some distant sedentary agriculturalist land, and leave no historical (and at best an uncertain archaeological) trace? There are just so many problems with a direct connection between the two.

The royal Shilla tombs at the end of the fourth century are the subject of some debate also. Some think they were developed from outside influence (presumably Koguryo), but others have traced their development locally.

Puyo (and probably Koguryo too) on the other hand, does show clear influence from the Xianbei.

Also the Hongshan was from 4700-2900 BC, long before there were a China or Korea or any historical records.
 
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Likes: Richardrli
#24
One of the most telling links between Shilla and the central Asian peoples is the striking similarity of crowns in Scythia, and Shilla






The rounded golden "fruit" hanging from golden branches is supposed to have a mythical symbolism in the Shilla lore, and is also present in the central asian crown. As this map shows there is a direct passage of steppe grasslands that central Asian nomads used to easily traverse through vast distances.

 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,664
United States
#25
Interesting comparisons, but I still see nothing more than dubious circumstantial evidence. We have to explain away everything else we already know, such as Shilla directly rising out of a combination of local Mumun agriculturalists and cultural influx from Liaodong and northwestern Korea. We would also have to explain why these people left no historical record at all (besides one mention several hundred years later that had obvious political usefulness).
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,664
United States
#26
Shilla under Pak Yuri (c. 280-300) most likely only existed of literally six towns in the Kyongju valley. It doesn't appear to have started expanding out of that very small area until the reign of Sok T'arhae (probably c. 300-320). The Samguk Sagi describes the conquest of two towns (Ushisan (probably Ulsan?) and Koch'ilsan) during the reign of T'arhae.

It appears to have continually expanded. By the reign of the Pak chieftain in the 360s, its western borders probably reached the middle Naktong river since it started to fight with Paekche over towns that were most likely around the Sobaek ridge, though there isn't anything that specifically states this.
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,664
United States
#27
Further analysis of the sources leads me to believe that the six original towns probably formed a league like the Aztec Triple Alliance, rather than a hierarchic tributary system, and they chose their leader based on certain criteria (the details are unclear but the Samguk Sagi indicates age was an important factor). My speculation is they probably divided up the tribute they got from their conquests with the leading chieftain receiving the largest share. This revision is based on the fact that the leadership was chosen from among the six towns (though only three appear to have actually produced ruling chieftains) and the fact that when Shilla fully formed into a kingdom these six towns functioned as a capital altogether; there was no discrete capital city until the late seventh century. Also less reliable evidence is the largely mythical Samguk Sagi account of the towns choosing Pak Yuri as their lord which seems like some sort of elections rather than a top-down domination.

The administration of their territories was probably fairly similar to the Aztecs as well. The towns they conquered or won over to their side were basically independent as long as they paid their tribute (maybe military obligations too?). There was no formal governing structure, just towns that were under Shilla's domination and those that weren't. Some conquered towns may have been given to noblemen from the six towns to rule. Beginning in the 360s chieftains began to make administrative reforms that strengthened their control over outlying towns. My guess would be that this involved securing a local clan or lineage's ruling position in exchange for more labor, military, and tribute obligations. These reforms were not completed until the reign of Naemul (probably around 380-400 or so), marking the firm establishment of a true state.

I would also revise my understanding of relations with Paekche. The earliest contact may have been in the 330s but was probably only one of many interactions throughout southern Korea between powerful rulers since Shilla and Paekche weren't quite major regional powers yet. In the 360s Paekche's troops that were pacifying newly-acquired southern territories were active probably around the area of the Sobaek ridge and the western bank Naktong river where Shilla also was active. They initially wanted peace but military competition over these towns made that unfeasible. Small clashes ensued between Paekche and Shilla over several towns, of which four names have come down to us: Pogam (ruled by a chief named Maengso), Wasan, Kuyang, and Toksan. These small clashes continued for some time until Paekche and Shilla agreed to peace in the beginning of the fifth century or so.

The exact sequence of events at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth are unclear, but it appears that Shilla at some point submitted to Koguryo (possibly related to some major northern conquests Shilla was undertaking at this time) and later requested reinforcements to help with a large Japanese invasion. The Koguryo troops pursued the Japanese into Kaya lands where the latter had many connections and fought some battles there. A severely weakened Kaya polity was then finished off by Shilla over the next two decades or so. It was also during this time that Shilla sent hostages to Koguryo and Japan, but in the 420s or so more equal relations appear to have been established.

There was a large expansion, most likely to the north, around the 390s-400s that involved the conquest, annexation, or vassalization of the polities of Umjup(pol), Shiljik(kok), Aptok, Ch'op'al, Piji, and Tabol.
 
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