Taiwan Fun Magazine, July 2003   

Shi-san Hang Museum of Archaeology¡X
how they used to live

By Kevin Lax Translated by Byron Fu

       An interesting new museum, the Shi-san Hang Museum of Archaeology, is opening in Bali, Taipei County, at the end of April, 2003. The museum¡¦s exhibits were excavated from the Shi-san Hang ancient settlement next door.

       The museum, with a creative boat-shaped design, has a floor area of more than 3,000 square meters. In addition to the artifacts on display and related information, there's the interesting story of the excavation process itself. Anyone interested in how people lived in north Taiwan almost 2,000 years ago--or in archeology in general--should visit.

       The museum also tells the story of Bali, one of north Taiwan¡¦s earliest settlements, and a prosperous town hundreds of years before Taipei existed.

       In addition to showing a vast number of items, from ceramics to spears to gold jewelry, the museum also reveals how the excavation was carried out. The methods used left literally no stone unturned; anything and everything of value in the site was located and preserved, allowing researchers to develop an overall picture of how the area's inhabitants lived 1,800 years ago.

      So how exactly did Shi-san Hang¡¦s people live?

       The site has revealed something about their burial ceremonies: The dead were buried next to houses or nearby, there was no special burial ground. After death they were clothed, and a hat put on their head. Some people were buried in fine clothes, with pearl-laden garments and decorated hats. The dead were then placed on their side, with the head facing southwest and the face facing the sea. No remains of children under six years old have been found in Shi-san Hang, suggesting there was probably an alternative disposal method when infants died.

       Because different types of animal bones have been found at Shi-san Hang, it can be surmised that hunting was a major activity. The Bali area was heavily forested 2,000 years ago, and the woods were home to wild pigs, Formosan Sika deer, and other animals.

       No nets have been found, but the large number of fish bones and net weights indicate that the people probably fished with nets. They had an iron-making capability, so they probably also used iron spears to catch fish.

      Shi-san Hang had a great deal of interaction with other settlements in Taiwan, and, it is speculated, overseas. Many items not made locally have been unearthed: gold and silverware, glass bracelets, glass pearls, and copper coins.

       From these overseas products and the unearthed deep-sea fish bones, it can be surmised that the people knew how to make boats and sail the seas.

-Shi-San Hang Museum of Archaeology
200, PoWuGuan Road, BaLi, Taipei County
(02) 2619-1313
Hours: Tues-Fri 9 am-5 pm; Sat & Sun 9 am-6 pm; closed Monday, Chinese New Year¡¦s Eve and Chinese New Year¡¦s Day, but open on Mondays which are official holidays.
Ticket prices: NT$100; groups NT$70 per person; student NT$70; students groups NT$50 per person; seniors, disabled and children free.


Getting There:
The museum is easy to reach. The address is 200, Bowuguan Road, Bali, Taipei County. Visitors can take the MRT to Kuandu Station (on the Danshui line), then take the Red 13 shuttle bus to the museum. For a more leisurely journey with better views en route, take the ferry from Danshui to Bali, get the bus, or walk (about 50 minutes), or even hire a bike and ride along the riverbank to the museum.