General Information of the Site

          From the historical excavation data at the Peinan Site, we can see that the Peinan Site was preserved primarily in three layers of the soil, which were the outermost terrestrial washed topsoil, the intermediate river washed loess layer and the bottommost gravel layer and also the old riverbed. The upper edges of the loess and gravel layers were the strata where the pre-history cultural level was formed. The pre-history cultural level can be further divided to the “Rope Figure Pottery Cultural Level,” “Peinan Cultural Level,” and “Sanhe Cultural Level” based on the timing of their formation. Descriptions of the respective levels are given below:


          I. Peinan Cultural Level

          “The light brown soil layer underneath topsoil houses dense ceramic sheets, remains of stone tools, and building traces primarily consisting of slates and gravels. The thickness varies widely between 30 and 100cm. This layer is even thicker in the southern part of the excavation site. It is generally 100cm but areas with a “trash pit” can be as thick as 160cm (Chiang Wang, 1984:33). This layer houses remains that disclose the contemporary daily activities and acts of people of the Peinan Culture during their occupation, i.e. the archeological remnants and house relics or burned areas, among other accumulations of remains that tell us about the contemporary “phenomena.” But in fact, the activities of the people of the Peinan Culture were not limited to the contemporary ground surface and encompassed digging underground to bury the dead. In other words, the life and living of the people of the Peinan Culture would not go beyond the lower end of this light brown soil layer and the dense slate coffins on top of the light yellow soil layer and the gravel layer underneath are the burial remains of the Peinan Culture and should be part of the Peinan Cultural Level.” (Chao-Mei Lien & Wen-Hsun Sung, 2004:46-47)



          II. Rope Figure Pottery Cultural Level

          “Between the light brown layer and the gravel layer were sporadic translucent objects consisting of fine sand or loess or tiny gravels plus loess…Among the intermediate layer of translucent objects, besides ceramic sheets of the Peinan Culture, ceramic specimens with textures, shapes, and figures different from those in the upper Peinan Cultural Level were found. The ceramic pieces uncovered in the intermediate layer of translucent objects featured rope figures. Therefore, it was referred to as the Rope Figure Pottery Cultural Level to differentiate from the Peinan Cultural Level.” (Quoted above: 47)


          III. Sanhe Cultural Level

          Besides discovery of the New Stone Age Culture at the Peinan Site, it was recorded in literature of earlier excavations that iron tools were earthed (Kaneseki Takeo & Kokubu Naoichi, 1990:147, translated by Chi-Shan Tan). However, it was not until recent years when archaeological excavations were performed on the archeological site and in the area eastern to the railway that more specific remnants from the Iron Age were unearthed. Remnants that were uncovered included iron spearheads, iron ingots, glass beads and triangle handles, etc. (Kun-Hsiu Li, 2002; Mei-Chen Yeh, 2006) KunHsiu Li (2002:69) asserted that the Iron Tool Cultural Level found at the Peinan Site should be referred to as the “Sanhe Culture”. The discovery of this cultural level not only confirmed that it was directly related to the Peinan Culture but also pulled the subsequent development of the Peinan Culture from the previously thought northern side of the Peinan River back to the Peinan Plain.

          Chronological data on the Peinan Site were mainly based on the data uncovered during multiple excavations. By far, there have been chronological data on the carbon 14 dating performed on wooden charcoal and human bones and the thermoluminescent dating performed on ceramic pieces (Table 1-4). From the chronological data unearthed during archaeological excavations between 1980 and 1988, Wen-Hsun Sung and ChaoMei Lien (1988:56) believed that “seven pooled chronological data from 2800B.P. to 3400B.P. were very credible indications of the Peinan Cultural Age. However, this period of time seems to be insufficient to represent the whole duration of the Peinan Culture. Therefore, terminal data from the oldest year 5300B.P and the latest year 2033B.P. need further discussions.” However, later earthed data showed that between 2300B.P and 1900B.P., the Peinan Site should belong to the “Sanhe Culture” of the Iron Age (Kun-Hsiu Li, 2002: 66).