Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Highway construction held up by archeological find

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Directorate General of Highways announced on July 27 that Provincial Highway 84 connecting Beiman (北門) and Yujing (玉井) in Tainan County would not become fully operational until 2010 because of the discovery of the Siliao Historical Site (西寮遺址).

The site contains archeological relics that provide insight into the lives of the Sirayans (西拉雅人), a tribe of Aborigines who lived in the area hundreds of years ago. It was discovered during construction work on the section of the road between Siliao Village (西寮) and the Madou Interchange (麻豆) of National Freeway No. 3.

Meanwhile, the directorate said that a 6.6km section of the expressway connecting Guantien (官田) Interchange and Shichuan (西庄) Interchange on National Freeway No. 3 will be opened to the public by the middle of the month.

The section between Yujing and Guantien has been in operation since 1998.

The directorate's original plans call for the construction of a 41.8km highway spanning seven townships in Tainan County. The project was supposed to be completed in 1998. However, it was suspended in 1993 for 10 years because of opposition from local residents.

Construction finally resumed in 2003, but the project suffered further delays owing to the discovery of the historical site.

Instead of proceeding with the construction, the directorate has cooperated with the institute of history and philology at Academia Sinica to salvage the remains of the Sirayan culture.

The preservation efforts have cost the directorate nearly NT$90 million (US$2.72 million).

Liu Yi-chang (劉益昌), a researcher at the institute, said the site was the largest of its kind in the country, with a perimeter measuring 8 million square meters.

He said the site contained relics from between 1,500 and 600 years ago. Items retrieved so far include porcelain jugs, deer horns, shells and human skeletons.

Liu estimated that at one point more than 3,000 Sirayans lived in the area.

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