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National Museum of Prehistory
Specimen and Artefact Collections Overview

Archaeological Collection

The rescue and excavation of the Peinan Site led to the planning and construction of the National Museum of Prehistory. Starting from maintaining the artefacts and data uncovered from the Peinan Site as the prime target of our archaeological collection, we have expanded the scope to pre-historic cultural sites in Taiwan. In additional to the successive donation of many specimens form amateur collectors including Hsi-po LU and De-ling KUO, National Taiwan University and the National Taitung Social Education Center (now National Taitung Living Art Center) have transferred the specimens unearthed from Taiwan archeological sites after the museum started operations. Our archaeological collection also includes the archaeological artefacts and remnants found from commissioned archaeological excavation projects. Our current collection of archaeological specimens includes archaeological artefacts unearthed from the Peinan Cite, East Coast and other archaeological sites. The variety of specimens covers pottery, stoneware, jade, metal ware, glassware, tomb remnants, human bones, and animal bones. Currently, we have a collection of over 30,000 archaeological artefacts and an ample amount of research specimens.

Natural History Collection

The aim to collect artefacts and specimens in relation to the environmental history (natural history) is to provide data regarding representative phyto-communities and rocks and minerals from pre-historic to modern Taiwan. By collecting and studying these specimens, we support archaeological and anthropological research and demonstrations. We have a collection of nearly 2,000 natural history specimens in three main categories: botany, geology, and zoology. Most specimens are mineral specimens from Taiwan and paleozoological fossil specimens of mammals found from the Penghu Ocean Trench.

Ethnology Collection

The collection of most ethnological, or anthropological, specimens covers the material and cultural specimens of indigenous peoples of Taiwan, minority ethnic groups of Southwest China, and islandic peoples of Southeast Asia and Oceania. These materials and cultural specimens include everyday life implements, clothes, textiles, architectural components, household articles, production tools, religious and ceremonial artefacts, crafts, books in ancient languages, music, and images. We have a total collection of nearly 20,000 ethnological specimens.

  • • We began collecting ethnological specimens in 1992, with a focus on the artefacts of indigenous peoples of Taiwan.
  • • In 1995, we expanded our scope of collection to the artefacts and specimens of islandic peoples of Southeast Asia. Two collection activities were conducted in that year.
  • • In support of phase II of the museum, we began the organized and systematic collection of ethnological artefacts and specimens of minority ethnic groups of Southwest China, over a dozen groups such as the Miao, the Zhuang, the Bouyei, the Dong, the Maonan, and so on.
  • • In 2008, we received a donation of nearly 20,000 artefacts and specimens of the South Pacific Ocean from Mr. Iwasa Yoshichika.

Major Scope of Collection

Classification of Specimens
Scope of Collection
Category of Collection
Archaeological Specimens
Ethnological Specimens
Natural History Specimens
Taiwan Austronesian peoples
Animal fossil specimens
Southeast Asia Austronesian peoples
Rocks and mineral specimens
Oceania Austronesian peoples
Ecological specimen: Malacofauna
Southeast China Minority Ethnic Group

Eastern Taiwan Historical Artefacts


Bone tools

Horn tools

Tooth tools

Shell ware



Ecological specimen: Human beings

Ecological specimen: Malacofauna

Ecological specimen: Animal

Ecological specimen: Plant

Ecological specimen: Mineral


Storage Environment

The storage of the National Museum of Prehistory occupies an area of 1,789m², about 3% of the museum’s space. The storage includes nine storage areas: Archaeological Research Specimen Storeroom, Archaeological Artefact Storeroom, Environmental History Specimen Storeroom, Anthropological Specimen Storeroom, Anthropological Textiles Storeroom, Specimen Image Room, Large Specimen Storeroom, and Temporary Storeroom. Most parts of the collection are archaeological, anthropological, geological, and paleozoological artefacts and specimens. There are also the mail room, specimen quarantine/refrigeration room, photography room, archaeology studio, and exhibition areas around those areas.

The ice storage central air conditioning system is equipped to maintain constant temperature and humidity of the storage. This system operates round the clock and is independent from the air-conditioning system of the exhibition and office areas. In addition to maintaining the temperature and humidity at 22±1°C and RH 50±5%, we equipped the entire storage with low UV fluorescent tubes at standard color temperature and the FM200 gaseous fire suppression system for indoor application to minimize the potential harmful effects on artefacts and specimens caused by environmental factors.