It sounds like a myth: a legendary ancient tribe of short individuals with dark skin who once lived in the mountains of Taiwan that’s become part of local lore.
According to researchers, however, 6,000-year-old bones in the mountains of the island nation could prove that the legend was fact-based.
A research paper published in the journal World Archaeology revealed that a skull and femur from an ancient woman were found in a cave by researchers from Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.
“In Taiwan, there have been stories passed down through the generations about an ancient tribe of short, dark-skinned people that once lived in mountainous parts of the island,” the Jerusalem Post reported on Oct. 11.
“But until now, there has been no physical evidence to confirm the tales.”
An abstract for the research paper notes that the “study of human skeletal remains unearthed from the Xiaoma Caves in eastern Taiwan, for the first time, validates the prior existence of small stature hunter-gatherers 6000 years ago in the preceramic phase.”
“This female individual shared remarkable cranial affinities and small stature characteristics with the Indigenous Southeast Asians, particularly the Negritos in northern Luzon,” the paper says. “This study solves the several-hundred-years-old mysteries of ‘little black people’ legends in Formosan Austronesian tribes and brings insights into the broader prehistory of Southeast Asia.”
The 6,000-year-old woman was roughly 1.3 meters tall, or a little over 4 feet.
The legends, it’s worth noting, have the “little black people” living in the mountains until the 1800s. They were mentioned in documents from the Qin Dynasty, which reigned in China from 221 to 206 B.C.
“Such tales differ between groups, however, with some believing that the earlier people were ancestors of theirs,” the Jerusalem Post noted. “Others see them as former enemies. One group claims to have killed off the last of the ancient people 1,000 years ago.”
While DNA from the skull bore some relation to samples taken from African individuals from the time period, the skull’s shape and size are consistent with a group of people who lived in the Philippines.
“The observations of the Xiaoma burial remains, together with 258 traditional Austronesian legends, indicate that ‘little dark people’ at one time had lived in Taiwan, resembling the Negrito groups in Southeast Asia,” the paper said.
“The new findings bring attention to the period of co-existing overlap of the older hunter-gatherer communities with the new immigrant Austronesian-speaking farmers in Taiwan.”
The archaeological discovery is one of several in recent years that seem to confirm ancient “myths” are anything but — particularly pertaining to the Bible.
Last year, an article in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology reported the discovery of a 3,100-year-old piece of writing that may have proved the existence of one of the judges of the Old Testament.
Archaeologists said they found five letters that appear to be part of the name Jerubbaal, otherwise known as Gideon — the farmer, judge and prophet who led the Israelites into battle against the Midianites — on a piece of pottery.
However, archaeologists couldn’t confirm that the pot, discovered in 2019 near Kiryat Gat in the Southern District of Israel, was referring to the Old Testament figure.
“It would be tempting to posit that this inscription is that of the biblical figure,” researchers said. “After all, the chronological framework for this figure is the period of the Judges, and so a time frame for him in the twelfth or eleventh century BCE (the date of the inscription) is entirely plausible.”
However, “the name of the Judge Gideon ben Yoash was Jerubbaal, but we cannot tell whether he owned the vessel on which the inscription is written in ink,” they noted.
Meanwhile, an archaeologist from Trinity Southwest University in New Mexico led a team that excavated a site believed to be location of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In 2018, the archaeologist announced that 13 years of digging had led to the discovery that a “cosmic airburst event” happened in the area where the cities were thought to stand some 3,700 years ago.
Researchers concluded the biblical cities — destroyed by God in the Bible for arrant depravity in the Book of Genesis — were annihilated “in an instant.”
All discoveries that no one expected to find — and could be dismissed as mere fiction were it not for the science.