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Historical Archaeology of Early Modern Colonialism in Asia-PacificThe Southwest Pacific and Oceanian Regions$
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Maria Cruz Berrocal and Cheng-hwa Tsang

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054759

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054759.001.0001

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Encountering the Wider World before the Transition to History

Encountering the Wider World before the Transition to History

Chinese Ceramics in Proto-historic Taiwan (Tenth through Sixteenth Centuries)

(p.270) 11 Encountering the Wider World before the Transition to History
Historical Archaeology of Early Modern Colonialism in Asia-Pacific

Yi-Chang Liu

Su-Chin Wang

University Press of Florida

Because the historical archaeology of Taiwan has, since the seventeenth century, focused on either Dutch and Spanish occupations or Chinese immigration, it hasremained unconcerned by earlier, proto-historic encounters with the outside world. Based on foreign ceramics, particularly those originating from China, this chapter explores the exchanges between Taiwan and other regions from the tenth to sixteenth centuries. Although the archaeological record suggests that the island of Taiwan was visited by the Chinese, the two major trade routes of the time (one from Fuzhou or Quanzhou to Ryukyu and the other connecting Quanzhou and Luzon through the Penghu Islands) may have simply skimmed past Taiwan’s coasts. The lack of desired products which might have met the demands of Chinese markets restricted Taiwan’s share of the growing maritime commerce. The “Austronesian Routes” —the multi-dimensional and complicated communication and exchange networks that prehistoric aboriginals of Taiwan had long actively participated in—were steadily fragmented during the process of expansion of the South China ceramic trade, and they were eventually segregated from world commerce systems. It is this long-term process that generates the “backwardness” of Taiwan's aboriginal societies as portrayed not only in early Chinese texts but also in Dutch and Spanish documents.

Keywords:   Taiwan, Chinese ceramic, Archaeological record, Trade routes, Austronesian Routes

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