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Culture, defense ministries to team up on heritage preservation

2012/06/27 14:49:27

Taipei, June 27 (CNA) After a visit to an archaeological site that held Taiwan's oldest human remains, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said Tuesday her ministry will work with the Ministry of National Defense to excavate and preserve cultural heritage in the country.

The archaeological site on Liangdao islet was not compromised, even with modern societal changes, because it was in a prohibited military zone, Lung said during a trip to Matsu, one of Taiwan's outlying islands.

In April, an archaeology team in Taiwan announced the discovery of the skull and other bones of an ancient man on Liangdo, one of several islets that comprise the Matsu archipelago.

The Ministry of Culture sent the bones to the United States for analysis, which confirmed that the skeleton dated back to around 8,300 years ago.

They are the oldest human remains ever discovered in the area extending from Hangzhou Bay in the East China Sea to the Vietnam coast.

Lung said that as relations between Taiwan and China continue to warm up, other Cold War military zones will be opened up.

The culture ministry will work closely with the Ministry of National Defense to ensure that these precious cultural assets "gain the respect they deserve and are preserved as they should be," she said.

Public access to Liangdao was strictly prohibited until 2011 when a ceremony was held there to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Nationalist army's arrival on the island.

On that occasion Lienchiang County Magistrate Yang Sui-sheng, the chief administrator of Matsu, noticed what looked like seashell mounds along the roadside and informed Academia Sinica.

The country's top research institute later sent an archaeology team that uncovered the ancient man's remains.

Jonas Chen, who led the team, said the skeleton was discovered under the seashell mounds that went 40 centimeters underground.

(By Sabine Cheng and Christie Chen)