A historian called yesterday for stronger conservation measures for Lo Sheng ("Happy Life") Sanatorium after discovering fossils at the construction site of an MRT maintenance depot last month.
The Taipei County sanatorium is a sprawling complex built during the Japanese colonial era to isolate people suffering from Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy. Plans to tear down most of the sanatorium's buildings to make room for an MRT maintenance depot have met with strong opposition.
Activists protested the demolition on the grounds that it meant evicting its residents.
PHOTO: LOA IOK-SIN, TAIPEI TIMES
They received support for their cause when Tamsui-based historian Chi Jung-ta (
"The hills [of Lo Sheng] are composed of sedimentary rocks, which contain fossilized remains of prehistoric marine life such as seashells, since [the area] was once seabed," Chi explained to the Taipei Times in a telephone interview.
After consulting with Chen Wen-shan (陳文山), a geoscience professor at National Taiwan University, Chi said that the fossils belonged to the Pliocene era, "which is at least 5 million years before our time," Chi said, adding that further examination would be needed to gain a more detailed picture.
Unfortunately, a lot of the rocks with fossils have been destroyed, Chi said.
"When I went to the construction site in June, I saw them [construction workers] breaking the rocks into sandstone to use as construction material," he said.
Chi said there were many tombs of Chinese settlers from the Qing Dynasty within Lo Sheng's perimeter.
"We could make the entire area into an on-site exhibition not only of Taiwan's public health history, but also of the history of settlers and of paleontology," Chi said.
Fang Juang-lih (
"I've asked the [Taipei] County Cultural Affairs Bureau and the construction firm to further investigate the matter and submit a report," he said.
"We'll decide what to do after receiving the report," he said.
Although the discovery was made last month, the construction was only halted on Tuesday after an assistant to Taipei City Councilor Lin Jui-tu (
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