National Tsing Hua University professor Tsang Cheng-hwa (臧振華) and University of Cantabria professor Maria Cruz Berrocal are next month to lead an excavation on Heping Island (和平島) to discern the exact location of Fort San Salvador and the monastery it housed, the Keelung City Government said on Thursday.
It would hold a meeting at the Sheliao Borough Community Center to brief residents on the excavation, the city government said, adding that it has been collaborating with the university and its Spanish counterparts since 2011.
“We hope to establish a rapport with the locals to support the excavations and find ways to minimize the effect on the local populace,” it said. “Together, we hope to discover more of the history of Heping Island.”
Photo courtesy of the Keelung Cultural Affairs Bureau
The Spanish and the Dutch established colonies on northern and southern Taiwan respectively, from the 15th to the 17th centuries, the city government said.
The Ministry of Culture has approved NT$800 million (US$25.9 million) to fund the Tagana Story project, which aims preserve the history of Keelung.
Kuo Li-ya (郭麗雅), head of the city government’s Division of Cultural Heritage, said that Spanish construction of Fort San Salvador began in 1626, two years after the Dutch began construction of Fort Zeelandia in Tainan.
Historically speaking, this should place Keelung on the same footing as Tainan, she said.
Efforts to find the exact location of the Spanish fort began in the Japanese colonial era, Kuo said.
Based on the findings of archeologists of that time, the government from 2011 to 2016 conducted its own research and excavations, and discovered the remains of three men, she said.
The bones and their method of burial all pointed to them being European in origin, Kuo said, adding that the find was a great step toward unveiling Taiwan’s history.
When Heping Island Shipping Co was building a parking lot in the area, it found what seemed to be parts of the Spanish monastery, which narrowed down the search area, Kuo said.
Excavations are planned for early next month, with hopes of finding more information and what role Taiwan played during the Age of Exploration, the city government said.
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