The Ji'an region on the middle reaches of the Yalu River served as the capital of the Koguryŏ kingdom during its middle period (ca. c.e. 200–427), as abundantly attested by archaeological remains in and around the town of Ji'an in the southernmost part of Jilin Province in northeastern China. Among these remains are a number of enormous mounded tombs made of stone or earth, many of which are believed to represent the burials of Koguryŏ kings, about a dozen of which should have been interred in this region. Since the beginning of the present century, Chinese archaeologists have engaged in intensive excavations and surveys on these tombs. The results of this work enable us to learn more about Koguryŏ's elite tombs, when they were constructed, and the possible identity of their occupants. This study focuses on a small subset of tombs that very probably represent those of Koguryŏ's kings. Architectural characteristics, relative locations, and artifactual contents (particularly roof tiles) are used to suggest how royal tombs are to be identified, outline a relative sequence of construction, and propose a schema for associating individual tombs with specific rulers. This analysis sheds light on various characteristics of Koguryŏ mortuary systems, construction techniques, aesthetic sensibilities, and royal authority, while providing an opportunity to address a number of important and problematic features of scholarship on Koguryŏ.


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pp. 7-27
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