Chief Coordinator: Scarlett Chiu
When the IHP was originally established, there were plans to form eight different sections, with the archaeology section among them. Sections were reorganized and the number was down to three. Of these, the third was dedicated to the study of archaeology, anthropology, and ethnographic materials. In 1934, anthropological research was moved out of the Archaeology Department to become an independent Anthropology Department, and the Archaeology Department then focused solely on the study of archaeology.
From 1928 to 1937, the Archaeology Department conducted fifteen large-scale excavations in Anyang, Henan Province. During these excavations, palace remains and royal tombs from a late Shang Dynasty city were discovered, as well as large amounts of oracle bones, bronze, pottery, and jade and stone artifacts. This discovery marked the beginning of a new era for the study of ancient Chinese history, and established for the IHP an important place in the international scholarly community. Additionally, between 1928 and 1946, the Department also conducted excavations and surveys at various sites throughout China and established the paradigm for modern Chinese archaeological fieldwork.
After Academia Sinica’s relocation to Taiwan, members of the Archaeology Department organized and compiled data from excavations in the Mainland, and published the Archaeologia Sinica Series中國考古報告集. (These included monographs about Xiaotun, Houjiazhuang, and ancient objects and instruments). Not long thereafter, the Department began archaeological work on Taiwan. In 1972, the National Science Council subsidized IHP’s project on the “Interdisciplinary Research Project of Natural and Cultural History in the Zhuoshui River and Dadu River Drainage Basins in Taiwan.” That same year, the Taiwan Archaeology Research Center was also established at the IHP. Subsequently, the study of Taiwan’s archaeology became an important part of the work for IHP. Fieldwork, excavation, and surveys were conducted in both lowland and mountainous regions, including the Dajia, Dadu, Zhuoshui, Zengwen, and Gaoping River basin areas, as well as on Green Island, Orchid Island, Kinmen, and the Penghu and Matsu islands. In addition to the independent archaeological research pursued by the divisions scholars, the division has also for many years conducted general survey work of Taiwanese archaeological sites under contract by the Ministry of the Interior, assisting government agencies and the private sector in the preservation and promotion of archaeological cultural heritage. This collaboration furthers the dual objectives of preserving the heritage of Formosa’s ancient inhabitants on behalf of society and the country and preserving and collecting data and artifacts crucial to scholarly research. The more significant excavation sites include those around the Southern Taiwan Science Park, Damalin, Yuanshan, Qubing, Zuoying, Shisanhang, Guishan, , Xiliao, Ciyakang (Wanrong Pinglin), Baxiandong, Tainan Lizaiwei, Yilan Hanben, and Hualien Huagangshan, and botanic garden. Work at these sites has provided information important to the establishment of cultural history from pre-historical to historical times and the reconstruction of the lifestyles and societies of ancient peoples, and furthered our understanding of the interaction among peoples on Formosa and its neighboring islands. It furthermore represents an important contribution to the writing of Taiwanese history and the promotion of local cultural and historical education.
At present, the Archaeology Department conducts research in three major areas. These include: 1) Research on the Asian continent with a focus on the Chinese Central Plain (archaeology of the Xia, Shang, and Zhou civilizations, ancient Chinese history, and archaeological studies of the Southwestern regions); 2) Archaeological research focusing on Taiwan, which also extends to regions such as Southeast Asia and Oceania (Taiwanese prehistory, the origins and migration of Austronesian peoples, archaeological theory and methods), as well as historical anthropology informing the establishment of early Taiwanese history (South China Seas since the 9th century, Taiwan and its outlaying islands, and underwater archaeology); and 3) Archaeological science research (testing and analysis of unearthed artifacts such as metal, pottery, and stone, glass, human bones, ecofact and soil from archaeological sites) is aimed at deepening the discussion on our ancestors’ living environment, types of society, craftsmanship, development, and interaction between different ethnic groups.
Members of the Department have also spearheaded the creation of the Archaeology of Taiwan and Southeast Asia Research Center in order to bring together resources from the field of Taiwanese archaeology, extend its field research in Vietnam, the Philippines, and East Timor, and to continue to raise the bar for research in the area while developing new and unique areas of focus. In 2013, The Center for Archaeological Studies of the Academia Sinica Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences was incorporated into the IHP. This change allowed the Department to bring together the division’s longstanding expertise in the archaeology of Taiwan and the Chinese Central Plain and to allow for integrated, cross-regional archaeological exploration from the coastal regions of the South China Seas and Taiwan, Island Southeast Asia and all the way to the Pacific regions. By thus bringing together formerly separate groups of archaeological researchers at Academia Sinica, this reorganization allowed for deeper investigation of the origins and history of migration of Austronesian peoples as well as the development of inter-disciplinary area studies.