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New Stone Age relics excavated from Baxian Cave in eastern Taiwan
New Stone Age relics were found from Lingyan Cave, the first cave of Baxian Cave in Changbin Township in Taiwan’s eastern county of Taitung. (By Central News Agency)
TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—New Stone Age relics were found from Lingyan Cave, the first cave of Baxian Cave (八仙洞) in Changbin Township in Taiwan’s eastern county of Taitung, after the county government took back the cave, according to archaeologist Tsang Cheng-hwa (臧振華), whose team has been excavating the cave since July.
Tsang said that New Stone Age pottery pieces and animal remains had been excavated from the layer one meter below the cave, adding that it is fortunate that the archaeological layer of the site was not destroyed during the long period when the site was occupied by a temple.
New Stone Age pottery pieces and animal remains found from the first cave of Baxian Cave by Tsang's team.
Baxian Cave is located on the cliffs that face the Pacific Ocean, and there are dozens of natural sea caves. These sea caves were originally in the sea but are now located on the cliffs a very short distance from the sea because of the rise of the Earth's crust on the east coast of Taiwan.
Baxian Cave is the oldest prehistoric site that has been found in Taiwan and ranked as a first class national historical site.
However, almost all bigger caves, such as Lingyan Cave, Chienyuan Cave, Hailay Cave, Chaoyin Cave, and Kuenluen Cave, have been occupied by people pursuing religious practice as places where religious rites are performed. The first and biggest cave, Lingyan Cave, was occupied by a temple, and some smaller caves were even turned into ashes niches.
Lingyan Cave was occupied by a temple in the past. (Photo from Flickr)
Over the years, Taitung County Government has gradually taken back the occupied caves through legal channels, and the reclamation of Lingyan Cave has attracted most attention. After the demolition of the temple in July, the county government has commissioned Tsang, professor at the Institute of Anthropology at National Tsing-Hua University, and his team to excavate the site.
Tsang told reporters on Monday that Baxian Cave was originally thought to have 17 caves, but since 2012, 13 more caves have been discovered, so currently there are 30 recognized caves on the site.
On the excavation of Lingyan Cave, Tseng said pottery fragments and animal remains had been dug out, which were proved to belong to the New Stone Age dated back to some 2,500 years ago, adding, and “It’s fortunate that the cultural layer was not destroyed by the temple”.
The 30 caves cover a timeline spanning from the Old Stone Age (about 30,000 years from now) to the New Stone Age (about 2,500 years ago), but so far the team hasn’t found human remains, which might be ascribed to the high humidity in the caves, he said.
Tsang said Baxian Cave is a very special and rare archaeological site, which even foreign scholars have paid much attention to. He urged the government to come up with good plans for the caves after taking them back.