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Cultural Pingtan | International Austronesian Symposium held in Pingtan

en.ptnet.cn | Updated:2022-06-22 | Lin Kongbo, Stephanie

A two-day academic seminar on Austronesian studies wrapped up on the afternoon of June 17 in Pingtan, an island off E China’s Fujian Province and the closest place on the mainland to the island of Taiwan.

An expert pictured delivering a speech at a seminar themed on Austronesian held in Pingtan

The exchange opened with the grappling riddle of all times: the origin of the Austronesian. A panel of experts and scholars from home and abroad, including Taiwan, gathered to conduct an all-round sharing.

Gao Yayun, a doctoral student from the School of Social and Cultural Science of Kumamoto University, presented her findings on the foxtail and proso millets at the Keqiutou site in Pingtan and the transmission of foxtail millet in the southern region. Titled the“Discovery of Foxtail and Proso Millet Imprints on Keqiutou Pottery Shards and the Revelation of Foxtail Millet's Transmission," Gao revealed: Back in 2019, a team of researchers found evidence of millet on the pottery shards excavated from the Keqiutou site. The imprints are the earliest archaeological evidence of millet plants in the coastal areas of Fujian, suggesting that millet may have been brought into Fujian during the Keqiutou civilization 6, 500-5, 500 years ago. With the recent discoveries at the Nanshan site in Sanming, Fujian and Nanguanli site in Taiwan, inferences point to two routes, one of which could be the eastern waterway.

Deng Xiaohua, chief expert of the Austronesian Institute of Fujian University of Technology and a professor and doctoral supervisor of Xiamen University, pointed out in the report "Research Status and Prospects of the Origin and Formation of Austronesian: "Comparing some nucleus words related to basic life, ecology, and body parts in the Austronesian language to those of southern Chinese dialects, it can be found that the southern Chinese dialect still keeps the “bottom” component of the original Austronesian language. "It can be concluded that the formation of southern Chinese is the result of the long-term fusion of the Central Plains Chinese and the southern indigenous languages, that is, the original Austronesian language, which moved southward with the ethnic Han Chinese."

Zheng Guozhen, former director of the Fujian Provincial Bureau of Cultural Heritage, said that the research on the origin and diffusion of Austronesian will help further understand the cultural origins of the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, drive the study of the historical evolution of the Chinese civilization featuring unity in diversity, and enhance the sense of identity across the Taiwan Straits and the cultural affinity between China and the South Pacific countries. He proposed: "The priority in the following research is to figure out what we have and what the small island countries along the migration route have and the relationship among Pingtan, Fujian, and the southeastern mainland throughout the Austronesian cultural period.”

"The two-day communication gave me a deeper understanding of the Austronesian family. I am convinced that the Austronesian family is bound up with the ancient cultures and ethnic groups in the coastal areas of Fujian and even the entire southeastern region, said Fu Lin, an assistant professor of the Department of History of the College of Humanities, Xiamen University.

In recent years, Pingtan has founded the Pingtan International Research Center for Austronesian Archaeology, making it a hub for international research on Austronesian culture and boosting the construction of Pingtan into an international tourist destination.

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Editor in Charge:Lin Kongbo
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