In the middle of the basement exhibition hall, there is an atrium where a giant statue of jade earring of the Peinan Culture is situated in the center. The display is arranged in layout of grids with square benches exhibiting educational information and multimedia facilities.
Different from the displays in the exhibition rooms, the atrium is a space with flavor to various opinions. People can express their viewpoints for they are the main characters in this event. Their voice is directly "heard", even the viewpoints differ from our staff. The topics are basically an extension from the exhibition themes, namely an integrating of the three major themes (people, nature, culture), or manifestation of social significance or common issues. We hope that visitors not only can acquire knowledge here, but also be inspired to contemplate and leave with an impression.
There are six topics and seven sub-topics presented in the forum; every sub-topic is expressed in two ways, the "commentary" and the "subject of debate". In the "commentary", people can give opinions or thoughts by interviews; in the "subject of debate", the impartial voice is expressed through narration.
The following are the topics and the sub-topics of the forum
1. Archaeology and cultural heritages - Excavation Site
2. The story of the Peinan Site
3. People and the nature - the spotted deer of Taiwan -The last hunter
4. The indigenous peoples - Urban indigenous peoples
5. The versatility of culture - Meeting Jajo Bay
6. A museum for everyone - The birth of the NMP
Archaeological and Cultural Resources - the Excavation Site
Archaeology is like decoding a historic book buried underground, and the main objective is to infer the age of prehistoric culture, reconstruct the lifestyle of the people, and interpret the process of cultural development, based on the artifacts left by prehistoric people. This complicated and difficult but immensely satisfying task has fallen on the shoulders of archaeologists. From their professional knowledge and extensive field experiences which are absolute necessities for them, come the scientific analysis and judgment which allow us to have an idea of original prehistoric life. Thus historic information, regardless of the level of its completeness, come from the evidence for the cultures of ancient people, found in the clues uncovered in archaeological excavations.
The Story of the Peinan Site
The discovery of the Peinan Site can be traced back 100 years, but large-scale excavation did not take place until 1980. Due to the construction of the New Taitung East Line Railway Station, a large number of prehistoric sites and remains were unearthed. Then excavation was carried out by a student team led by Professors Wen-hsun Sung and Chao-mei Lien of National Taiwan University. A total of 13 excavations were carried out over nine years. Among the remains excavated, were the slate coffins highly concentrated in one area, all arranged in the same position. As for the funerary goods excavated, these were stone and jade objects for grinding flour, and various types of pottery. According to the experts, a structured social group already existed at that period.
People and the Nature - the Spotted Deer of Taiwan
The last hunter
"A young man in warrior garment is chasing a spotted deer in the wild. The faithful hound jumps on the spotted deer regardless of its own safety". This is a portrayal of the lifestyle of the Pingpu Man in Taiwan illustrated during the Qing Dynasty. Spotted deer is a subspecies of the Cervidae that is native to Taiwan, and is named for the white spots on its back that resemble plum blossoms. Spotted deer lived forests all over Taiwan since the ancient times, and they had close association with the history and the indigenous peoples in Taiwan. However, since the deerskin trade took place after the arrival of the Dutch in the 17th century, the population of spotted deer had gradually reduced due to excessive hunting and use of their habitats as farmland, and eventually, the spotted deer are extinct on this land. Attributed to the advocacy of the concerns experts and researchers, the restoration and research on Taiwan spotted deer in Kenting National Park has gained rudimentary results.
Hunting is an important custom to the indigenous peoples. In the early times, the animals were the main source of meat for the tribesmen. Just like the conviction of the indigenous peoples that holds high respect for the nature and godly spirits, there are many taboos concerning the activity of hunting. For example, the rules on the hunting seasons and the type of animals to be hunted, and the decision on hunting made upon observation of signs could avoid punishments from the evil spirits or fruitless hunting. The rules are indeed wisdoms that the ancestors of the indigenous peoples on the utilization of and respect for the natural resources. Hunting also serves the purpose of training a man to become a warrior. The hunted animals are shared with the rest of the tribe. Today, this traditional activity is facing confrontation and criticism from the modern world under the concept of animal protection.
The Indigenous Peoples - Urban Indigenous Peoples
According to archaeology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics studies, it is reasonable to infer that the indigenous peoples in Taiwan have been living on this land since 6,000 years ago. Like other traditional societies, the indigenous peoples have migrated to the cities under the impact from the modern trends, changes of financial situations, and hardship of making a living in their native place. Conflicts existed due to difference in thoughts between the indigenous peoples and Han Chinese. With the efforts from both groups, the foundation of mutual respect has gradually been established through the interaction among the younger generations. Through literature, music, and traditional arts, the understanding and appreciation for the indigenous peoples are facilitated.
Cultural Pluralism- Meeting Jajo Bay
The coastal plain, with area of less than 3km2, has been the crossroad to different groups people as they pass by. Today, Jajo Bay has congregated the descendants of Pingpu, Amis, Bunun, Holo Lang, Hakka, and veterans from other provinces. They have settled here by coincidence. Although it is true that each person has cultural characteristics unique to oneself, the diverse cultures have developed into a subtle relationship of coexistence and created an epitome for the cultural pluralism in Taiwan. When we trace the footsteps of the cultivation of the once wasteland, we will find distinctive culture in this small settlement.
A Museum for Everyone - The Birth of the NMP
The National Museum of Prehistory is the first national museum of archaeology in Taiwan to present the studies, collections and exhibitions of the excavation of the Peinan Site, and in hope to bring the visitors a general understanding of the rich and diverse prehistoric cultures of Taiwan. To bring the function of preservation and knowledge sharing into full play, an information center concerning archaeology, ethnology, natural history is established for in-depth study on Taiwan. We strive to become an international standard museum with equal respect on research. Let us enter the National Museum of Prehistory to explore the history and step into the future.