Skip to main content

The Stories of People Living in Taiwan From 30,000 Years Ago


Taiwan’s history extends much further back than its history usually known, which began about 400 years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that it dates back at least 30,000 years and includes the Late Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Iron Ages. Throughout its prehistory, Taiwan continuously took in migrating peoples from various places who rooted themselves and the cultures of their homelands here. The material culture and remains from each time period reflect a continuous flow of peoples and contact among them that ultimately created Taiwan’s unique culture. Based on evidence from 100 years of local archaeological research, this exhibition hall invites visitors to join in the exploration of Taiwan’s prehistory.

The Paleolithic Period  The Paleolithic Period in Taiwan: Untiring Pursuits and Migrations 


During the Ice Age around 30,000 years ago, the Taiwan Strait became a land bridge linking Taiwan and the Asian mainland due to the lowering of the sea level. Paleolithic people who had originally lived in continental Asia migrated and spread to Taiwan in pursuit of their prey.

The Early Neolithic Period  Migrants from across the Sea: The Onset of the Development of Agriculture 


Following the end of the Ice Age, Taiwan once again became an island, and a new group of seafaring immigrants came around 6,000 years ago. They landed from the estuaries on the northern and western coasts and were soon widely distributed. They brought along the pottery production and agriculture, initiating Taiwan’s Neolithic period.

The Middle Neolithic Period  Inheritance and Spread: Differences and Similarities in Material Culture 


The early Neolithic immigrants gradually spread with similar cultural characteristics, embodying the concept of cultural homology. However, after long-term cultural development and local adaptation, obvious local styles appeared and led to the differentiation of each region’s culture.

The Late Neolithic Period  A New Wave of Cultural Features: The Yuanshan Culture and Its Distinctive Characteristics 


Taiwan has always interacted frequently with surrounding areas, and traces of technical exchanges, or the borrowing of ideas are often seen. In the late Neolithic period, the pottery and stone tools made by people in the Taipei Basin obviously added new elements, and the functional design was also different from other regions of Taiwan.

The Late Neolithic Period  The First Appearance of Black Pottery: A Painstaking Art of Smoldering and Quenching 


New techniques for producing grayish black pottery emerged at this period, and soon were also widely used in western Taiwan, the detailed pottery decorative patterns and special burial ritual also reflect special values.

The Late Neolithic Period  Red Pottery Innovation: Back to the Basics in the Sense of Beauty and a New Life Style 


While black pottery culture was developing in western Taiwan, the eastern region still maintained the tradition of red pottery culture, but the cord-marked pattern decoration was gradually abandoned, and simple, plain surfaces became the mainstream. In addition to the innovation of aesthetic style, there is also greater richness and variety to their pottery design.

The Late Neolithic Period  Magnificent Jades: The Peak of Jade Culture 


People already knew how to make jade into tools, weapons, and ornaments in the early Neolithic period. The Central Mountain Range area at the northern end of the East Rift Valley is the only source of nephrite in Taiwan. However, jade objects have been unearthed from Neolithic sites in every region of Taiwan, reflecting the active interactions and exchanges. The jade objects of the Peinan Culture are the most outstanding for their diverse and complex styles, and are representative of prehistoric jade culture.

The Iron Age  Spanning and Connecting: A New Chapter in Craft Technology and Aesthetics 


Around 2,000 years ago, high temperature craft working was introduced to Taiwan, and people in the eastern region began to use iron objects, becoming the earliest to enter the Iron Age. By that time, plenty of interactions and exchanges, bringing the material cultures such as bronze items, glass beads, and agate beads from outside Taiwan, and the emergence of new technologies also led to a transformation of pottery-manufacturing techniques and styles.

The Iron Age  Forging and Smelting: High Temperature Technologies 


Manufacturing metal ware is not easy. Besides the use of new raw materials, one must use high temperatures to transform it into the desired product. The production process also depends on the improvements in the control of the fire and to raise temperatures and maintain them.

Taiwan 500 Years Ago  Around 500 Years Ago: The Final Stage of Prehistory 


What was Taiwan like before the historical period? Many remains from this final stage of prehistory have been unearthed; reflecting the frequent and intensive interactions between Taiwan and the outside world at that time, as well as the appearance of diverse ethnic groups on the land. When pieced together, they form a mosaic of how these people lived, which helps us to build a more accurate idea of the rich, diverse face of Taiwan today.

Cultural Artifact Corridor


“Axe-hoe Shaped Object”, “Adze-chisel shaped object”, “Bone, Antler, Shell, and Tooth Objects”… The cultural artifact corridor displays all kinds of items used by prehistoric people, and items with the same function may appear in different types because of ideas in different times or regions, which can be observed through the way of displaying together.