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Story Telling by the Ancient People

Story Telling by the Ancient PeopleNMNS, July 5, 2018 - The National Museum of Natural Science recently completed the reinstallation of the permanent Ancient Chinese Gallery in the Human Cultures Hall with abundant materials excavated from archeological sites found in central Taiwan in the past 20 years, and renamed the Gallery to “Story Telling by the Ancient People”.

According to the cultural affairs authority, there are more than 2,000 archaeological sites in Taiwan, indicating the island was inhabited by humans as early as 30,000 years ago. Yet, in a fast-moving, forward-looking place like Taiwan, it is difficult to even begin thinking about what this island was like before recorded history. In the new “Story Telling by the Ancient People” Gallery, archaeology unveils central Taiwan’s intriguing prehistoric past.

Story Telling by the Ancient PeopleMany objects from the previous installation remain on view, chosen for both their outstanding educational and cultural value, and for being both visitor and curator favorites. But we are delighted to be able to display some new objects and themes. The Gallery’s previous iteration focused primarily on ancient Mainland China. For the new installation, we expanded the Gallery’s scope to incorporate Taiwan’s earliest inhabitants, particularly those in central Taiwan.

“In schools, there is emphasis on teaching about Taiwan’s Han culture. As a matter of fact, the Taiwanese culture is not only the Han culture. The Han Chinese only have about a 400-year history in Taiwan. If you want to know more about this island, you should also talk about the prehistoric peoples. That is the reason why a site in a major city like Taichung is important. We need a site that is readily accessible to the public, so that they can learn more about Taiwan’s prehistory,” Ho Chuan-kun, a former chairman and curator at the Museum’s Department of Anthropology, said in 2004.

Story Telling by the Ancient People“We make it a priority to draw connection between ancient Taiwanese and Austronesian-speaking peoples in order to urge visitors to question the links between indigenous groups and prehistoric cultures, which has actually been one of the hottest debates in archaeology, ethnology, and historical circles in the past decades,” said Chu Whei-Lee, Chair of the Museum’s Anthropology Department, at the press conference. As the leading archaeologist of Anhe site dating back about 5,000 years in Taichung City, Chu said, “The cemetery found at Anhe site was one the earliest in Taiwan and is important for researching the island’s history. The most touching discovery at the site was a mother carrying a baby in her arm. When it was unearthed, all the archaeologists and staff members were shocked. Why? Because the mother was looking down at the baby,” explained Chu. “Also, rice, millet, and a large number of bones of fish, dogs, Formosan wild boars, leopard cats and Formosan sika deer were excavated from the site,” stated Chu. “The burials found at Anhe site were believed to be the earliest evidence of human activity in central Taiwan. The site is significant since not only human skeletons unearthed here trace human activity back some 5000 years but also confirm the extraordinary richness of human civilization at that early date,” noted Chu in the end.

In the renovated gallery visitors will learn about different cultures found at different sites, including Tapenkeng, Peinan, Chilin, Tamalin, Niumatou, Yingpu, and Fanziyuan cultures. Fossils, skeletons, tools and artifacts unearthed at the sites during excavations are on display, including Anhe Mother and Infant, the Profile of Anhe Site, a jar 100cm in diameter, a stone coffin, an iron knife, and many more …. Besides, visitors will get to know through videos that Taiwan was joined with Mainland China, via land bridges, during a period of glacial advances and retreats between 3 million-10 thousand years ago. Animals, including ancient elephants, migrated from southern China to Taiwan crossing these land bridges. Last but not least, the gallery has an artifacts restoration room, giving visitors a glimpse at how the Museum’s pottery repairers restore and repair ancient relics.

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Prehistoric past has a way of revealing itself in unexpected ways. There are much more for our visitors to explore in this must-see new gallery. You should not miss it!