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  • Dates: 57 BCE - 935 CE
  • Capital: Gyeongju
  • Korean/Japanese: 신라 (新羅) (Silla / Shiragi)

Silla was one of three kingdoms which ruled the Korean peninsula from c. 57 BCE until 668, when Silla unified the peninsula under its rule, continuing to rule Korea until 935.

The rulers of Silla officially recognized Buddhism in 528, and adopted it as the state religion in 572.[1] Some of Korea's greatest Buddhist monuments were then built by Silla, including the Seokguram grottoes, completed in the second half of the 8th century.[2]

The sixth and seventh centuries saw a number of conflicts in the region. In 532, Silla allied with the neighboring kingdom of Paekche to attack the Gaya Confederacy. Some years later, also in the mid-6th century, Silla allied with the Iwai Kingdom of northern Kyushu, against the Yamato state, which had the aid of Gaya. Silla conquered Gaya by 562.

By the 660s, Silla was on its way to conquering the entire peninsula. Paekche sought and received the aid of the Yamato state in opposing Silla's advances; they were defeated, however, by allied Silla + Tang Dynasty Chinese forces, most notably in the 663 battle of Hakusukinoe, and by 668 the Korean peninsula was united under Silla's rule.

Yamato sent regular missions to Silla until 799.

In the 8th and 9th centuries, Silla came to be a prominent presence on the seas, perhaps even the dominant one. Korean merchant vessels regularly traveled as far south as Yangzhou.[3]


  1. Gallery labels, Arts of Korea, LACMA.
  2. Gallery labels, "Silla: Korea's Golden Kingdom," Metropolitan Museum, Dec 2013.
  3. Geoffrey Gunn, History Without Borders: The Making of an Asian World Region, 1000-1800, Hong Kong University Press (2011), 217.