Nav: Home

A new perspective on the European colonization of Asia

March 20, 2017

In the past, researchers have paid limited attention to this fact, which has led to a dearth of modern anthropological, historical and archaeological investigations as well as insights regarding this period of proto-globilisation in this region of the world. Research directed by María Cruz Berrocal is starting to fill this gap. Cruz Berrocal's archaeological excavations at a settlement in northern Taiwan have brought a new perspective on the colonisation of the Pacific region to light: the small Spanish colony of 'San Salvador de Isla Hermosa' was an early globalised spot. María Cruz Berrocal is a Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg of the University of Konstanz and associated with the Department of History and Sociology.

The focus of her investigation is a settlement on the small Island of Heping Dao, which belongs to the city of Keelung in the north of Taiwan. The excavations, carried out at this site since 2011, have recovered important archaeological artefacts. They document the history of human habitation on the island: from early history onwards, the region played an important role for Taiwan and was also influential during the age of European colonisation. 'San Salvador de Isla Hermosa' was founded as a Spanish colony on Heping Dao in 1626 and was later taken over by the Dutch. The Chinese eventually annexed the territory, followed by Japanese occupation until the end of World War II.

The Spanish lived in the settlement from 1626 until 1642. The excavations by María Cruz Berrocal's international research group provided considerably more evidence of early European presence and influence than expected. The archaeologists discovered the foundations of a church or Christian convent and the associated cemetery. "Our findings demonstrate that this colony did not play a marginal role. Taiwan was a juncture for commercial relations in the Pacific region and therefore a hub for extensive interaction," explains María Cruz Berrocal.

The excavations, with the most recent taking place from September to November of 2016, have so far uncovered six burials and other dislocated human remains near the church. In November 2016, the archaeologists unearthed a skeleton of a deceased person who was buried with hands folded in prayer. "These are the first European burials from this time period discovered in the entire Asia-Pacific region and they contain the first documented human remains. The colonial cemetery that we unearthed is also the oldest in the region," says María Cruz Berrocal.

Analysis of the human bones and especially the teeth is revealing a multifaceted picture. Compelling biographical information such as geographic origin, diet and medical history can be gathered through isotope and botanical analyses of dental remains as well as the examination of the preserved DNA of pathogens. The isotopic analysis is being carried out by Dr Estelle Herrscher from the CNRS, France and the botanical analysis by Dr Alexandre Chevalier from the Royal Belgian Institute of Science. Johannes Krause from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany is analysing the human and pathogen DNA. Plant remains are also providing important information since many new plant species were introduced into the Pacific region by Europeans.

Initial findings are indicating that the human remains most likely belong to people who came from Europe, Asia and possibly even Africa. Since they were also interacting with the native Taiwanese population on Heping Dao, it is important to carry out further research here in order to discern the impact they experienced as a result of European colonisation. Additional analyses will provide a more comprehensive picture of the early history of this region. "The results demonstrate that we are dealing with an early globalisation hub here. The Spanish-style construction of the church illustrates that this colony was just as important to the Spanish Crown as other colonies established elsewhere, as in the Americas, for example. However, its attempt to gain a long-term foothold in the Pacific region was ultimately unsuccessful. For this reason, historians have since assumed that Taiwan only played a marginal role. But that is not the case," concludes María Cruz Berrocal.
-end-
Facts:

The excavations directed by María Cruz Berrocal were initially carried out under the aegis of the Consejo Superior de InvestigacionesCientificas (CSIC, Spain) and the National Science Council of Taiwan. Since 2013, the University of Konstanz and the Academia Sinica (Taiwan) are scientific cooperation partners in this research.

Analyses on human and panthogen DNA are being carried out by Professor Johannes Krause at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena. The isotopic analysis is being carried out by Dr. Estelle Herrscher from the CNRS, France and the botanical analysis by Dr Alexandre Chevalier from the Royal Belgian Institute of Science.

Publication:

Cruz Berrocal, M. and Tsang, Ch. (eds.) 2017 Historical archaeology of the Early Modern Colonialism in Asia Pacific. Vol. I. The Southwest Pacific and Oceanian regions. Vol. II. The Asia-Pacific region. University Press of Florida, Gainesville

Note to editors:

Photos can be downloaded under:

Excavation: https://cms.uni-konstanz.de/fileadmin/pi/fileserver/2017/Ausgrabung-Uni-KN-01.JPGhttps://cms.uni-konstanz.de/fileadmin/pi/fileserver/2017/Ausgrabung-Uni-KN-02.JPG

Caption: In November 2016, a skeleton with its hands folded in prayer was unearthed - the first documented European burial from the 17th century in the Asia-Pacific region.

Portrait of María Cruz Berrocal: https://cms.uni-konstanz.de/fileadmin/pi/fileserver/2017/Cruz-Berrocal-Uni-KN.jpg

Caption: María Cruz Berrocal, Ph.D., is associated with the Department of History and Sociology and is a Zukunftskolleg Research Fellow at the University of Konstanz.

Contact

University of Konstanz
Communications and Marketing
Phone: + 49 7531 88-3603
E-Mail: kum@uni-konstanz.de

University of Konstanz

Related Human Remains Articles:

Osteosarcoma profiling reveals why immunotherapy remains ineffective
Comprehensive profiling of tumor samples taken from patients with osteosarcoma shows that multiple factors contribute to the traditionally poor responses observed from treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Genetic identification of human remains from the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship
The BIOMICs Research Team at the UPV/EHU have published the results of analyses which have enabled the genetic identification of 525 human remains recovered from different mass graves dating from the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship.
Stevia remains the most discussed low/zero-calorie sweetener
The International Stevia Council recently unveiled data from its 2019 Online Conversation & Trends Analysis to identify and better understand the attitudes and perceptions around the sweetener stevia in English- and Spanish-speaking countries.
The fossilization process of the dinosaur remains
A piece of work conducted between the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country and the University of Zaragoza has conducted an in-depth analysis of the dinosaur fossils at La Cantalera-1, one of the Iberian sites belonging to the Lower Cretaceous with the largest number of vertebrates.
Thanks to pig remains, scientists uncover extensive human mobility to sites near Stonehenge
A mutli-isotope analysis of pigs remains found around henge complexes near Stonehenge has revealed the large extent and scale of movements of human communities in Britain during the Late Neolithic.
Searching for human remains: Study suggests methodology to improve results
In an effort to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement searches for human remains in the wild, searchers should cover the same area twice from two different angles and work no more than 1 to 2 meters apart while exploring the area
First evidence of gigantic remains from star explosions
Astrophysicists have found the first ever evidence of gigantic remains being formed from repeated explosions on the surface of a dead star in the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years from Earth.
Remains of Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered
Archaeologists from the University of Sheffield have uncovered a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon cemetery.
Siberian paleontologists discovered the oldest macro-skeleton remains
The oldest skeleton remains known to fossil chronicle of the Earth belonged to the microorganisms that lived 700-650 million years ago.
Stillbirth reduction strategy remains unproven, study finds
A care package aimed at reducing the risk of babies being stillborn may offer marginal benefit, research led by the University of Edinburgh suggests.
More Human Remains News and Human Remains Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.