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  • Archaeological Heritage in the Tainan Science Park of Taiwan by Cheng-hwa Tsang, Kuang-ti Li
  • Richard Pearson
Archaeological Heritage in the Tainan Science Park of Taiwan. Cheng-hwa Tsang and Kuang-ti Li. Translated by David Cohen. Tainan Science Park (TSP) Archaeological Discoveries Series 3. Taidong: National Museum of Prehistory, 2015. 359 pp. NT$300. ISBN 978-9-86047413-8.

Volume 3 in the Tainan Science Park (TSP) Archaeological Discoveries book series, this visually attractive book summarizes the results of more than ten years of rescue archaeology, beginning in 1996 and directed by Professor Tsang Cheng-hwa at the Tainan Science Park in Southern Taiwan, a complex of over 150 high tech factories employing approximately 60,000 workers. A local branch of the National Museum of Prehistory was included in the plan. At least one excavation team had over 100 workers and over 50 sites covering an area of 1043 ha have been excavated.

The park lies on Holocene sediments deposited in the Tsengwen (Zengwen) River. Many of the sites are covered by around 2 m of alluvium, making their discovery by traditional style surface survey methods very difficult. Entire villages consisting of residential areas, refuse areas, and cemeteries have been uncovered. Whole or reconstructable pottery vessels from graves show vessel shapes and uneroded surfaces rarely found in hillside deposits, such as the Dabenkeng Site. Village areas and house arrangements can be compared, and substantial samples for all kinds of scientific analyses are being processed and published. Color photos, drawings, and maps are featured on almost every page of the readable text, and drawings of ethnographic reconstructions are abundant. The book is aimed at a general audience: although a nine-page bibliography is provided, there are no citations in the text and no measurements of artifacts are included in the text.

The authors present a sequence for the Tainan area of southern Taiwan spanning 5000 years and six cultures, including: Dabenkeng (5000–4200 b.p.), Niuchuozi (4200–3300 b.p.), Dahu (3300–1800 b.p.), Niaosong (1800–500 b.p.), Siraya (500–300 b.p.), and Ming–Qing Han Chinese (300–150 b.p.). Some of these cultures can be divided into phases based on distinctive artifacts. A time period based on stratigraphy and carbon dating is provided for each phase. Briefly, the authors propose that initial Holocene occupation occurred with the Dabenkeng, which evolved locally into the Niuchuozi, not in isolation but with interaction with southeastern coastal China. Judging from changes in pottery, the Dahu culture represents “newly arriving people” (p. 175) to southwestern Taiwan, who mixed with the local population. Trade iron was used in the Niaosong Culture. Ming and Qing trade goods found in sites of the last two cultures show the arrival of Han Chinese traders and settlers and their interactions with lowland aboriginal inhabitants.

Holocene geomorphology is key to understanding Taiwan archaeology, since prehistoric settlements were clustered in basins and estuaries that changed dynamically through eustatic, isostatic, and tectonic change. There was an incursion of the sea in the Tainan area around 6000 b.p.; it continued from 5000 to 3000 b.p. as the coastline moved back and forth between the east and west sides of what is now the TSP. Part of the park consisted of an ancient lagoon and marsh area at the time the earliest site, Nanguanli, was occupied. In the Tainan area and throughout southwest [End Page 177] Taiwan, there was substantial tectonic uplift as well as alluviation. Subsequently there was some dune formation and river flooding.

This project makes a number of extremely important contributions to our knowledge of Taiwan archaeology and provides an overview for the many specialized reports on each site, which are already beginning to appear. (For example, a separate volume in Chinese, Xian Min Li Ji [Footprints of our Ancestors] by Tsang Cheng-hwa, Li Kuang-tī, and Chu Cheng-I, published by Tainan County in 2006, covers a smaller number of sites than the present volume, summarizing data from 11 individual sites.) Archaeological Heritage in the Tainan Science Park of Taiwan exponentially expands our knowledge of Dabenkeng Culture. It fills in the sequence following the earliest Neolithic cultures. It includes information...


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