The Study of European Migration in Asia-Pacific During the Early Modern Period: San Salvador de Isla Hermosa (Keelung, Taiwan)

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The paper is an introduction to the study of European migration into Asia-Pacific through the case study of northern Taiwan. Here, several Spanish and Dutch colonial outposts were founded during the first part of the seventeenth century. Since 2011 and up to 2016 we have uncovered six burials of the cemetery of the Spanish colony of San Salvador de Kelang (Heping Dao, Keelung) (1626–42). The cemetery was associated with the Convento de Todos los Santos, Convent of All Saints, also discovered anew during our excavations. DNA analysis shows that at least one of the individuals was of European descent. This finding is unprecedented in Asia-Pacific within this early chronological framework. The archaeological evidence stands in contrast to the scarcity of contemporary written information relating to death and burials, both in Spanish and Dutch sources. We use the written sources to contextualize the archaeological data, inquiring about the life trajectories of the European colonists in Taiwan, people who truly lived in a global world. We aim to synthesize these data to create a documentary background for future research towards a better understanding of the European migration patterns into Asia-Pacific within cultural, biological, and demographic dimensions. This study offers a valuable contrast with research on the same topic elsewhere in the world.