A team of Taiwanese and Spanish archeologists on Friday evening found an ancient mound of seashells and artifacts in a parking lot on Keelung’s Heping Island (和平島).
Headed by National Tsing Hua University professor Tsang Cheng-hwa (臧振華), the team has been excavating several sites in the area to find the 17th-century Spanish fort of San Salvador, a project that the municipality commissioned, the Keelung City Government said.
Among the artifacts recovered was a tool to sharpen bones and sea snail shells from the Neolithic period; cord-impressed ceramic tiles from the iron age; and an intact glazed blue-and-white ceramic medicine bottle from the Qing Dynasty, which Tsang called “exquisite,” the Keelung Bureau of Cultural Affairs said.
Photo: Lin Hsin-han, Taipei Times
Consisting of multiple layers, the mound’s oldest strata suggests that people have been living on the island since 1000 BC, or about 3,000 years ago, Tsang told the Chinese-language Apple Daily.
The tiles are likely connected to the Shihsanhang (十三行) settlement, while Japanese colonial records showed that Aborigines lived in the area, indicating that the island was continuously inhabited for longer than previously believed, Tsang said.
The site has no known correlation with the fort and further excavation would fall outside of the team’s remit, but it was nevertheless important to understanding Keelung’s history, he said.
Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) told a news conference at the site that the city has halted construction at the parking lot in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法).
“This is an exciting and moving day in the history of Keelung,” Lin said, adding that the discovery would prompt renewed planning for the city’s archeological projects as officials move the relics to a safe place to be prepared for display.
This is at least the second time archeologists have sought Fort San Salvador, the location of which was lost after the Dutch seized it in 1642.
Additional reporting by CNA
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