Wed, Jan 31, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Artifacts dug from temple witnesses to history: expert

By Chen Tsan-kun and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Qing Dynasty porcelain pieces unearthed near Chaotian Temple (朝天宮) during construction work are witnesses to the everyday life and culture of common people during the period in Yunlin County’s Beigang Township (北港), cultural historian Huang Shui-shui (黃水水) said on Friday.

Several hundred thousand pieces of broken porcelain have been unearthed, Huang said.

Apart from pieces that have been taken home by members of the public, the temple has also collected more than 100 relatively intact pieces, Huang said.

A majority of the pieces are everyday objects — spoons, teapots, bowls and plates — from the end of the Qing Dynasty period, experts have said.

They were probably used to fill the foundations of buildings after earthquakes struck Beigang, Huang said.

The artifacts were probably backfilled along with gravel, forming a so-called “disturbed layer” in archeology, Huang said.

The actual archeological site of the Beigang culture is probably underneath the temple, he said, but added that it was just speculation.

There is also speculation that there is a well that never runs dry underneath a Matsu statue inside the temple, but out of respect for the goddess and to avoid breaking taboos, no effort has been made to find it, Huang said.

The temple was built by several master artisans, and the works they have left behind have become treasures, Huang said.

The hinterland of the temple is narrow and not as large as that of Tainan’s Anping Fort (安平古堡), Huang said, adding that any carelessness could result in irreparable damage to the artifacts.

The base of the temple sank when a developer disturbed it while digging a foundation to construct a building near the temple some time ago, Huang said.

Optical instruments should be used before any archeological dig to determine whether to carry out excavations to avoid damaging the temple and its artifacts, he said.

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