[Q&A for the Curious about Jeju]
What was found inside Yongcheon Cave?
Jeju has dozens of lava tubes, and there are likely many more that have yet to be discovered. Workers found one of Jeju's most geologically and historically important lava tubes in May of 2005 while installing telephone poles on the road leading to the well-known Manjang Cave. Archeologists explored the site and performed excavations in 2009 and 2010. The cave is called Yongcheon and is part of a UNESCO-designated World Natural Heritage site.
The cave is thought to have been used by people around the 8th century, as the pottery found within it is strikingly similar to the pottery used at that time in the southern part of the Korean peninsula during the Unified Shilla Era. Much of the pottery was covered with a green glaze, and the manufacturing style incorporated stamped designs on the exterior of the jars and bottles. This type of pottery has been found in a number of other locations in Jeju, however Yongcheon Cave is the only site where horizontal jars have also been found. The presence of this pottery points to an active maritime trading culture on Jeju at that time.
The excavations at Yongcheon Cave also revealed iron implements including a knife, hammer and rod, as well as abalone and other shells, and the bones of animals such as wild boar.
You can see the striking 1,200 year-old pottery found at Yongcheon Cave and other artifacts from this period on display at the Jeju National Museum!