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Korean J Phys Anthropol. 2011 Jun;24(2):85-95. Korean. Original Article.
Kim YS , Oh CS , Lee SS , Kim MJ , Lee SD , Shin MH , Kim WL , Shin DH .
Department of Anatomy, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Korea.
Department of Anatomy, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.
Division of Forensic Medicine, National Forensic Service, Korea.
Department of Anatomy, Dankook University College of Medicine, Korea.
Department of Forensic Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.
Department of History, Pukyong National University, Korea.
Ulsan Museum, Korea.

Anthropological study on human skeletons from Joseon tomb, for confirming Ryu Ja-Gwang, a famous historical figure of medieval Korea. Ryu Ja-Gwang was the famous figure of Joseon Dynasty who achieved great successes in royal court. According to the records in Joseon Dynasty, he tried to hide his own tomb after death under the apprehension that the political enemies might do harm to his corpse. In 1974, the descendants of Younggwang Ryu clan discovered a Joseon tomb that was lost for the past several hundred years. Since they suspected if the tomb might be their legendary ancestor's, anthropological studies were asked to be done on the skeletons collected from the tomb. In our study, the estimated stature of a male from the tomb was 160.5+/-3.8 cm. The age at death was estimated to be 58.6+/-5.2. He seems to have been suffered from diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), the disease prevalent among the people taking high-caloric diets. Since nuclear DNA could not be amplified in this case, the personal identification of the dead person could not be successfully traced by molecular techniques. Taken together, we could not conclude that the skeletons were those of Ryu Ja-Gwang because the radiocarbon dating, age at death or height data could not be well matched with those described in historical documents. Even so, this study could be significant to the related researchers because it was one of the first trials to identify debatable historical figure using various anthropological techniques. Considering that the anthropological studies on famous historical people have been performed briskly, our study could be the basis for the similar studies in Korea, performed in near future.

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