The Silla Kingdom (57 BCE – 676 CE) originated from the state of Saro in the Gyeongju region, and comprised 12 Jinhan chiefdoms from the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula. The kingdom gradually expanded its territory by annexing small neighboring states, before officially declaring Silla laws in the 6th century CE. Around that time, the state accepted Buddhism as a governing belief system, which henceforth laid the foundation for the kingdom’s political and moral thoughts and actions. In 562 CE, Silla annexed Dae Gaya, paving the way for unification.
Silla culture is represented by its Buddhist relics, as well as distinctive wooden chamber tombs covered by stone mounds. Gold crowns and earrings excavated from such wooden tombs are among the most splendid and impressive gold handcrafts in the world, earning Silla the title of “The Country of Gold.” Silla society was profoundly influenced by the bone rank system (a hereditary caste system) and Buddhism, which dominated both social law and spiritual belief.
Importantly, Silla culture had international aspects, including overseas exchange, as evidenced by foreign artifacts excavated from the Gyeongju region, as well as traces of western culture found in burial mound figures.