Remnants of Possible Oldest Buddhist Tower Uncovered in South Korea

Arirang News, May 13, 2008

Seoul, South Korea -- Archaeologists believe they have nailed down the site of the oldest wooden tower in East Asia. The area in question is within the Pungnap Fortification in southern Seoul, which dates back to the Baekje Kingdom settled around the Han River, one of Korea's original three kingdoms.

What struck the archaeologists was an area that resembled a perfect square, 11 m in both length and width. According to the experts it has the markings not of a building or home site but of some kind of monument or tower.

A 3-m deep depression in the ground also points to the remnants of a foundation for the purported wooden tower which they contend is somehow linked to Buddhism. This got the team excited that the finding, given the date of the site and its size, is a tower older than any other in East Asia.

The Pungnap Fortress site dates back to the Baekje Kingdom, one of Buddhism's chief portals into Korea in the fourth century A.D. and a time before wooden towers used as Buddhist symbols spread across East Asia.

This could make the tower, if it indeed was one, the oldest in Northeast Asia. Archaeologists are now hoping to find evidence of a Buddhist temple as well as more hints of the possible tower to prove their theory.

Excavations at Pungnap Fortress were halted some eight years ago but those involved hope excavations can resume through better funding and more experts onboard.