Archeologists find 20,000-year-old hearth in Taitung

EARLIEST HUMAN RELIC:The stone hearth unearthed at the Baisandong Historical Site proves that humans have been living in Taiwan for more than 20,000 years

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Sat, Jul 25, 2009 - Page 2

A team from Academia Sinica has recently discovered a neolithic stone hearth in a cave in Taitung County that has been confirmed as the earliest human relic to have been discovered in Taiwan, Taitung County Government said yesterday.

After a year of investigation and research, the prehistoric archeology research team discovered the hearth at the Basiandong (Eight Deities) Historical Site (八仙洞遺址), which carbon-dating reveals to be 20,000 years old, an official with the county’s Cultural and Tourism Bureau said.

“The sample proves that humans were living in Taiwan more than 20,000 years ago,” the official quoted Tsang Chen-hua (臧振華), deputy director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of History and Philology, who led the research team, as saying.

In addition to the fire place, the research team also discovered seven new caves, bringing the number of caves discovered at the Basiandong Historical Site to 24, the Taitung official said.

Taitung Cultural and Tourism Bureau said the Basiandong site attracted the attention of Japanese archeologists during the colonial period and they explored the main cave, located in a coastal cliff area in the county’s Changbin Township (長濱).

Between 1968 and 1969, a National Taiwan University archeology team led by professor Sung Wen-hsun (宋文薰) worked on the Basiandong Historical Site again, discovering four samples that were later carbon dated as being between 5,000 and 15,000 years old.

To verify the dates of the relics, the Council for Cultural Planning and Development asked Academia Sinica to conduct a new round of research.

“The discoveries by Tsang and his team are tremendously important in terms of Taiwan’s neolithic archeological research,” the official said.