Niumatou Archaeological Site is quite an interesting place. It is located on the Aofeng hill, overlooking Qingshui, in Western Taichung.
It dates back to 4,500-3,500 years ago, to Taiwan Neolithic age. The people who lived in Niumatou were the ancestors of lowland Taiwan Aborigines. These Aboriginal people were completely absorbed into the Han Taiwanese in the last centuries.
Which story is Niumatou telling us?
Archeologists made a lot of interesting discoveries here, such as dwellings, graves and items. The site depicts the life of an Austronesian ancient people. At the same age, in the mainland, Chinese civilization was at its beginning.
Niumatou people were depending on farming, at least in part. Their large use of potteries, used to store grains, suggest that. They were growing rice but they were also relying on hunting and fishing.
They lived on the slope of Dadushan, covered by lush forests at that time. The hill was likely a safer place to live than Qingshui plain, flooded by the sea during typhoons. All these ancient settlements in Central Taiwan are found along the coastal hills or at the margins of Taichung basin (which was still, in part, a lake).
Niumatou people wore ornaments: glass beads, but also jade, which suggests also they traded with Eastern Taiwan tribes.
I found quite amazing the similarity between the stone weapon, a kind of club or broad blade, found here and the Maori mere. The latter is often made of jade, but they look quite similar. Further evidence of the kinship between Taiwan aboriginals and the Polinesians, so far away and both belonging to the great Austronesian family? Have a look at the poster below.
Shinto Shrine and Army Camp
The discovery of Niumatou dates back to the Japanese time, when the site was a Shinto Shrine. There are still some remnants of that time.
After WW2, the area became an army camp, so it was off-limits until recent years. Now it is open to the public as Niumatou Site Cultural Park. There is a small museum. Also, items from the more recent history of Qingshui, such as land contracts from Qing Dinasty, are on display.
Niumatou is an enjoyable place, which tells a lot about the rich and long history of Taiwan.
You can visit the site in a couple of hour. It is not far from Gaomei Wetlands.
There is a bus stop just in front of the entrance. It is served by bus #111, which connects Qingshui Railway Station to Niumatou, Gaomei Wetlands Visitor Center and Wuqi Fishing Harbor. Unfortunately bus #111 is quite infrequent, there are only 4 rides a day. You can find more info here.