Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2019 Volume XXV

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2019.25.409-414

УДК 7.031.1”634/638”(315)

Petroglyphs of Taiwan

Komissarov S.A., Azarenko Y.A.

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The article presents the survey of rock art sites on Taiwan Island which was connected with mainland by land bridge in the Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 25,000-12,000 BP), or even later, up to 6000-5500 BP. Through that bridge, the representatives of the Pleistocene fauna would enter the island, and were followed by the hunters. Peopling of the island from the mainland continued in the Holocene, fostered by shallow Taiwan Straight and probable use of floating devices which were relatively advanced already in the Stone Age. Petroglyphs in the mountain area of Wantoulanshan (Gaoxiong County) in the southwestern part of the island were discovered only in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They are similar to the rock art of Hong Kong and Fujian Province of China, which were preliminarily dated to the Paleometal Age, and can be considered to be the evidence of early migrations. All sites are concentrated in the valley of small Zhuokou River connected with the system of other rivers which could be used for movement of boats deeper into the hinterland. In order to understand the semantics of some images, the authors used myths and legends of aboriginal Rukai tribes. They worship the petroglyphs as sacred objects, and fire pits near the sites are likely associated with their ritual activity; the samples of charcoal from these pits were dated by the radiocarbon method to 480-520 BP. Judging by the subject matter and to some extent execution technique, pecked and carved representations on the rocks of Taiwan belong to the vast zone of Pacific rock art. In this context, new finds and earlier dates cannot be excluded. Solutional caves in the mountain regions of the island are promising for the search of early sites with rock art.


Taiwan, rock art, ancient migrations, semantics, Rukai aboriginal tribes

17, Аkademika Lavrentieva prosp., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences