label r shifted
Session B6
Continuity or Disruption of Taiwan Prehistory: A Perspective from Burial Behaviors of Southwestern Plain of Taiwan
邱鴻霖 Hung-Lin Chiu
Instutue of Anthropology, National Tsinghua University, Taiwan

To figure out the route and direction of Austronesian dispersal, it has been a critical issue to understand the cultural formation process of Taiwan Prehistory. Is it a single culture of continuous change? Or multicultural alternation after all? What kinds of assumptions can we make based on the archaeological evidence? Unfortunately, material culture such as pottery typologies and stone tool analysis showed a blurry scene. Meanwhile, perspective from bio-anthropology may provide little information due to poorly preserved. Nevertheless, burial behavior often has a high ethnic or cultural representativeness in human society, qualified to serve as an evidence to differentiate various culture units. This character may thus help us insight the continuity or disruption formation process of cultures across time periods.

Since 1998, large scale of rescue excavation projects held in southwestern plain of Taiwan, discovered a huge amount of prehistorical burials across 5,000 years of time which has been distinguished into six archaeological culture phases by stratified sequence of layers and dating records. However, the material contents of these culture phases have both similarities and differences over time which confused us on their actual relationship. In this study, we adjusted our focus onto the patterns of burial behaviors, showing a gradual change model in the first two culture phases (5,000 to 3,300 B.P.), and a dramatic change started from 3,300 B.P. which represents a new concept of mortuary practice indicating cultural transition or replacement events. Around 2,000B.P. the same phenomenon happened again, and then a sudden disappearance of burials during 1,000 to 400B.P. when the Han Chinese immigrants came.

Based on a preliminary observation, we can figure out that the material culture of daily life versus conceptual part of social life kept a different changing pace in this region. According to burial behaviors, a comparatively gradual change reflects an inner remodeling of indigenous cultures during 5,000 to 3,300 B.P., which represented a relatively steady and inherited cultural change, then multicultural effects came in this region at least three waves through the rest of the time, resulted in a dramatic cultural transition or replacement. The continuity and transformation of the mortuary practice across time may indicate the timing of the Austronesian dispersal, reflecting the migration of people moving in and out of Taiwan. Furthermore, this may also correlated with the formation of prehistoric Pacific islanders in a broader perspective.