FYI SOUTH Magazine, August 2004.


Digging Out The History Of Fort Zeelandia


     A place often visited by tourists when coming to Tainan is the historic neighborhood of Anping. Anping Fort, which remains the signature destination of the area, was the first castle built in Taiwan by the Dutch.

     The Dutch first built a small castle by the name of Orange on this site. Later it was expanded, and renamed Fort Zeelandia. It became an administrative and trading center, and although the name has been changed more than ten times, the building has earned itself a permanent place in history.

     It was not until 1983, with the enactment of the Cultural Preservation Law, that the fort was officially recognized as an historical monument of national importance. The castle once again changed its name--from Zeelandia to the Anping Fort Taiwan Cultural Heritage Site.

     All that is left of the castle is the outer wall of the north-facing side, the outer wall facing southwest, and the half-circle of the inner castle. Other remaining parts of the castle walls are hidden within private property.

     No blueprints of the castle have survived, and to better understand the history of the building, an archeological team was brought together. This team included people from Tainan City Government, professional archeologists, civil engineers, art historians, and educationalists. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) was used from August 2003 onward, allowing the walls to be studied without causing further damage.

     The results of all this work are being made public, and integrated to create Taiwan's first-ever public display of live archeological work. The team is going about its work in an exceptionally thorough manner, and hopes to gather enough artifacts and information to produce a complete archeological plan for the castle.

     After initial analyses, it was decided to approach the castle from three points--Test Pits 1, 2, and 3 (TP1, TP2, and TP3). The team is examining porcelain, tools, and documents which the Dutch left behind more than 300 years ago. One kind of teapot--now dubbed the Anping Teapot--has been found dispersed throughout the site.
Another artifact unearthed was a blue-and-white porcelain piece, made from imported Kraak Porcelain, and originally from the Chinese mainland. Nearly a hundred fragments of artifacts were uncovered in each of the three spots. Two Majolica items (from seventeenth-century Delft in the Netherlands) were uncovered in TP1 and TP2. In TP2, archeologists unearthed a wine pot that may have been a 17th century salt-glaze ceramic model from Rhineland, Germany. It is believed that a German man by the name of Bartmannskrug might have owned the pot.

     All of these pieces reveal the complexity of trade during the "Age Of Sail." Though the actual fort is in ruins, the artifacts reveal much about the Dutch colonization era. During four months of archeological work, the site has had around 180,000 visitors. Through guided tours and a monthly publication, the public has learned from the work done by the archeologists. The team is seeking government assistance to fund further excavations and investigations.