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  • 작성자 사진Kim Min-ji

[History] The Oldest Artifact in the Post-Old-Stone-Age: the Danyang Suyanggae Tanged Point

No. 156 / Mar 7, 2022

In 1978, a chance incident involving an American soldier overturned the archaeological community in Jeongok-ri, Yeoncheon-gun, Gyeonggi-do. Greg L. Bowen, who was majoring in archeology in the United States (U.S.), was enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1974 and served as a non-commissioned officer of the U.S. Air Force in South Korea. In 1978, while walking with his Korean lover at the Hantangang River Amusement Park, he collected stones to use when making coffee and found a fist ax, scientifically called an Acheulean -type fist ax, which was considered an ordinary stone by ordinary people. Thanks to the efforts of Greg L. Bowen, fist axes have been uncovered through excavations in all areas of Korea over the 10 years since his first discovery. As a result, the Mobius Theory, that was a dominant theory at the time, stating that the Early Paleolithic culture was divided into Europe, Africa, and East Asia, depending on the existence of the Acheulean-type fist ax. The West, where the hand ax culture existed, was superior in intelligence in comparison to the East, was discarded. If he had not tried to make this fact known to academia around the world, the Paleolithic culture of East Asia might still have been evaluated according to the Mobius Theory, Similar that, recently a new discovery that overturns existing theories has emerged.

A new relic worth paying attention to is the Danyang Suyanggae Tanged Point. If the fist ax symbolizes the Early Paleolithic, the Tanged point represents the Late Paleolithic. The point was trimmed so that one end could be inserted into a handle made of wood or animal bone. As a groundbreaking hunting tool that enabled Late Paleolithic hunters to kill animals from a distance, it played an important role in helping populations to survive the extreme environment of the Ice Age. In Korea, the point was first excavated from the remains of Seokjang-ri, Gongju-si, and Chungcheongnam-do in the 1970s, and 48 pieces were excavated from Jeokseong-myeon, Danyang-gun, and Chungcheongbuk-do, the most widely excavated Paleolithic sites in Korea in the 1980s. At the time of excavation, it was announced that the point was 41,200~41,800 years old, prior to obtaining accurate carbon dating results. However, as a more extensive investigation of the excavated relics was completed, it was finally announced that the Danyang Suyanggae Tanged point was 46,000 years ago. This result is also listed in Radiocarbon, vol. 63, No. 5, an authoritative international scientific journal in the field of carbon dating.

Danyang Suyanggae Tanged points, known as the oldest relic, found in Asia, were newly disclosed as the world’s oldest relic. One simple stone that could have been overlooked turned the history of archaeology upside down, and continuous research has overturned previous results. However, because these theories can change at any time, we should maintain our interest and continue with archaeological research.


By Kim Min-ji,AG Reporter

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