The old Taiwanese legend of ‘short, dark-skinned’ people who lived in remote mountains and suddenly disappeared has been confirmed to be true after the discovery of the remains of a ‘Negro woman’ in a cave that dates back 6000 years.
The country’s indigenous tribes have long shared stories of small hunter-gatherers already settled when they arrived 4,800 years ago — but a lack of evidence has shrouded this group in mystery for hundreds of years.
A DNA analysis of the skull shows that it is close to African samples and that the features of the skull resemble Negritos from the Philippines and South Africa, all of which are known for their short stature and small body size.
Archaeologists also discovered the female’s femur bones, suggesting she was about four feet in length.
It is still not known what happened to this ancient group, but researchers involved in the study suggest that the arrival of the Austronesian peoples could have led to the decline and disappearance of the Negritos in Taiwan.
A DNA analysis of the skull shows that it is closer to African monsters and the features of the skull resemble Negritos of the Philippines and South Africa, all of which are known for their short stature and small body size.
“The term ‘Negrito’, little black person, is a Spanish diminutive of Negro, first used by 16th-century Spanish missionaries to describe the hunter-gatherers in the Philippines,” the study reads. World Archeology.
‘Since the Negrito groups are characterized by their short stature, dark skin and frizzy hair, all groups have a similar phenotype in the adjacent region, including the Mani (Maniq) in southern Thailand, the Semang groups in Peninsular Malaysia and the Andamanese. in the Andaman Islands are often referred to together as the Negritos.’
There are 16 recognized Austronesian groups in Taiwan and all but one have similar legends about the Negrito people.
The legends about the apparent “Negritos” of Taiwan were collected during three major cultural periods: China’s Qing Dynasty from 1683 to 1895, the period of Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945, and then the era after 1945.
The woman’s remains were found in a cave and are believed to be at least 6,000 years old
Several documents from the Quin dynasty mention the existence of “people of short stature and dark skin” on the island, noting that they spoke a different language and only intermarried.
During the Japanese period, scholars collected and interpreted the stories about the Negrito people through field research among the Austronesian tribes – a total of 25 of these legends were collected in Taiwan.
After 1945 this subject received more attention and linguistic and ethnological field research increased the number of collected stories to 258.
However, the Austronesian groups differed on Negritos.
Some indigenous tribes viewed them as their ancestors, while others saw them as “strangers and enemies,” the study describes.
One tribe, the Saisiyat, claims to have learned medicine, song, dance and other rituals from the so-called Ta’ai.
More than 1,000 years ago, the Saisiyat killed what they believe to be Negritos’ last village in a battle for women – and the tribe still feels guilty about their ancestors’ actions.
The Saisiyat forced a battle, cornering so many people on a bridge that the entire tribe drowned when warriors threw him into a fast-flowing mountain river Chu Fung-lu, master of ceremonies for the memorial at Wufeng Village deep in the mountains of central Taiwan, told Reuters.
The old Taiwanese legend of short, dark people who lived in remote mountains. Pictured is a group of Negritos in Singapore
One of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes, the Saisiyat, claims to have learned medicine, song, dance and other rituals from the so-called Ta’ai. Here they perform a dance that would come from the Negrito group
The woman’s remains were found buried in one of the largest Xiaomi caves on the east coast of the island
The woman’s remains were found buried in one of the largest Xiaoma caves on the island’s east coast.
Also in the dirt layers were deposits of Neolithic pottery and Iron Age finds dating from 2000 to 6200 years ago.
The position of the woman’s remains suggest she was buried in a squatting position, consistent with other methods of hunter-gatherer burial in southern China and Southeast Asia from the late Upper Paleolithic (50,000 to 12,000 years ago) to the Mesolithic (10,000 to 12,000 years ago). 20,000 years ago). ) and Preceramic, which began 4,000 years ago.
Archaeologists determined the sex via the skull, as the pelvis was not available for analysis.
“The individual was determined to be female because of the gracile skull, small mastoid processes, smooth occipital muscle attachment area, perpendicular and raised frontal bone, and the smooth contours of the mandible base,” the study said.
The Negrito people are believed to be associated with the ‘first layer’ of anatomically modern humans who are more like Africans than the current Indos who represent the ‘second layer’.