Replicas of Liang Island (亮島) fossils, two ancient human skeletons excavated from Taiwan’s outlying Matsu archipelago in Lienchiang County, went on display in Taipei yesterday.
“The Liang Islander and Prehistoric Culture of Matsu Islands” exhibition at the National Museum of History features replicas of the skeletons, as well as tools made from animal bones, pottery and stoneware discovered at the same site as the skeletons.
The museum said it hopes the exhibition, which is to run until Jan. 25, will help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the cultures of the Matsu islands.
In late 2011, an archeological team from Academia Sinica discovered a skeleton at a historic site on Liang Island, one of several islets that comprise the Matsu archipelago off the coast of China’s Fujian Province.
The skeleton was dated at 8,200 years old and was named “Liang Islander No. 1.”
In July 2012, another skeleton, dubbed “Liang Islander No. 2,” was discovered at the same site and is believed to be 7,590 to 7,530 years old.
The two skeletons are the oldest human fossils discovered in an area that stretches from Hangzhou Bay in the East China Sea to the Vietnamese coast.
According to DNA biochemistry analysis, the Liang Islanders were related to Austronesian people, who were dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including Taiwan and the Philippines.
The discovery of the skeletons is said to be one of the most significant archeological finds in Taiwan in recent years and sheds new light on pre-Austronesian culture and the dispersal of people in the region.
Public access to Liang Island was prohibited until 2011, when a ceremony was held there to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) army’s arrival on the island.
Then-Lienchiang County commissioner Yang Sui-sheng (楊綏生) at the time noticed what looked like seashell mounds along the roadside and informed Academia Sinica, which sent the team that uncovered the human remains and artifacts.
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