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Recent Archaeological Discoveries


Tung Wai Tsai North, Ma Wan

In 1997 an archaeological excavation at Tung Wan Tsai North, Ma Wan was jointly conducted by the AMO and the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Experts from mainland China awarded this excavation as one of the “Ten Most Significant New Archaeological Discoveries in China in 1997”. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage commissioned the China Cultural Relics News Office to appoint experts to select ten major archaeological discoveries in China out of 479 archaeological excavations conducted in 1997.

The excavation at Tung Wan Tsai North was carried out between June and November 1997. The archaeological team discovered at the site 20 graves together with the remains of habitation. These rich cultural relics of the Pearl River Delta area date from Middle and Late Neolithic to early Bronze Age. These spectacular findings provide valuable information for the study of the culture of Hong Kong and of Guangdong and Guangxi areas during the pre-historical period.

The 20 burials of Late Neolithic to early Bronze Age (c. 2000 – 1000 B.C.) were found in a sandbar and appeared to have been properly laid out. Human remains of men, women and children were discovered in 15 burials. Grave goods comprising pottery and stone artefacts were found. The pottery vessels were mainly pots and jars, while stone artefacts included axes, adzes, arrowheads, spearheads, whetstones, slotted rings, rings, bracelets and tube ornaments. There were also jade and shell decors; in some burials, even natural stones were found.

ancient people

The discovery of well-preserved human skeletal remains of ancient people is one of the most important discoveries at Tung Wan Tsai North is not only important for Hong Kong but the whole Pearl River Delta area. After preliminary examination by physical anthropologists, these human skeletal remains were found to bear general characteristics of the Mongolian race as well as those of certain populations in tropical areas. The discovery is very important in understanding the relationship between local Neolithic settlers and inhabitants in the neighborhood, particularly in relation to the racial history of our indigenous people.

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