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Wed, Jan 05, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Cultural heritage at risk from new power plant

ARCHAEOLOGY A rich deposit of shells and other materials that may have a significant impact on our understanding of Taiwan's pre-history is threatened by the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Katagelan Culture Workshop yesterday exhibited remains of a possible sea shell currency and residues of silver and iron unearthed at Yenliao Bay in Taipei County, near the site of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES N

An important archaeological find that could necessitate the rewriting of Taiwan's pre-historical culture records has been made at the site of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四發電廠), lawmakers and field researchers said yesterday.

DPP legislator Chang Chin-fang (張清芳) said at a press conference that a large shell mound rich in residue of silver, iron, coal and charcoal had been found at Yenliao Bay (鹽寮灣).

The excavation was done around a month ago by the Katagelan Culture Workshop, a field research group which focuses on Aboriginal pre-historical culture.

Lin Sheng-yi (林勝義), founder of the cultural workshop, said the site was many hectares in size, and that one-third of it was within the area of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

The remainder is on a site allocated for the construction of Yen-liao Park, Lin said.

Lin said Taiwan Power Corp had rejected a request by his workshop to extend excavation to the site of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which is currently under construction.

The building of the power plant was approved by the legislature in 1994 against strong resistance from opposition parties and environmentalists. Ground was broken on the plant last year and it is currently 29 percent complete. It is scheduled for completion by 2005.

Lin, along with legislators, were worried that these possibly pre-historic relics might be destroyed before a scientific evaluation of the site could be conducted.

"On initial examination it is quite possible that the site was originally a processing area for precious metals thousands of years ago," Lin said.

Echoing Lin and Chang, DPP Legislator Lin Chung-mo (林重謨) said the shells unearthed seemed very similar to the ones of Sanxingtuei Culture (三星堆文化) in Sichuan (四川), China.

Sanxingtuei was first excavated in 1986, and it was immediately recognized as one of the world's ten most important archaeological discoveries. The ancient civilization centered on the Sanxingtuei site has been estimated to be 3,300 years old.

So far, there has been no complete academic research done to the relics of Yenliao Bay, but according to radiocarbon dating conducted by the NTU geology department, the shells from the site are estimated to be 3,510 years old.

The great age of the shells discovered indicates that the site needs immediate preservation for further archaeological researches legislators said.

Legislators called for research institutes to do studies on the site and said the government should set up a Taiwan pre-history cultural preservation center at the site once there is clear evidence that it is important.

Field researcher Lin said his cultural workshop have asked the Cabinet-level Council of Cultural Affairs (文建會) for support.

"Chairperson Lin Cheng-chi (林澄枝) has promised to provide support for further scientific examination to the site," he said.

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