Archaeology shows that Chinese ancestors lived and procreated in Hong Kong as early as 6,000 years ago.
In 1987, excavation at the Neolithic site at Dayu Mountain, HK (6,000 BP) revealed over 100 stone tools, large amounts of earthenware and a house foundation. Chipped stone implements that make up majority of the stone tool kit over here are characteristic of early Dongwan culture, establishing a link to south west Asia’s lithic traditions. In the later period, millstones, polished hand axes and grinding and carving implements were added to the Dongwan industry. Handmade Dongwan earthenware is composed of plain coarse ware pottery, plus fine but soft pottery that links with south China’s other Neolithic cultural traditions in terms of utensil shape and decoration.
Joint salvage excavations in 1997 at Dongwanzai, Mawan, by archaeologists from both the mainland and HK, recorded many items of importance from prehistory. These included the discovery of a cemetery of 20 tombs that has been selected by the State Council Relics Bureau as one of the “Top Ten Archaeological Finds for 1997.”
In 1999, excavation work taking place at the lithic workshop site of Xigong, that covered an area of 200 m˛, produced hundreds of flakes, scrappers, stone rings, burins, as well as polished stone implements that included adzes and shovels, giving a clue to techniques of stone manufacture adopted by Hong Kong’s Neolithic ancestors.
Thus archaeology proves the gradually strengthened cultural links that existed between the mainland and Hong Kong. Large numbers of unearthed bronze weapons such as knives, arrowheads and dagger axes, and bronze implements that included axes and fishhooks, demonstrate the bronze-casting technology that developed on the mainland was introduced to Hong Kong around 1500 BC.
In 1990 the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Guangzhou-based SunYat-sen University made a joint excavation at the Dawan site on the Nanya Isle, producing 10 tombs with large funerary objects such as stone implements, pottery, bronze ware and jade articles found. Of the jade, a tablet was found -- the only known one in south China -- that has attracted considerable attention. A jade tablet is a sacrificial vessel used by the people from the central plains -- the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River that include Henan, Shandongm Hebei and Shanxi -- for ceremonial sacrifices in the Bronze Age. It was discovered beside the South China Sea and showed that at least 3,000 years ago Hong Kong had established close connections with the Central Plains, some thousand miles away.
Further on in history, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qinshihuang, unified China in 221 BC and Hong Kong was incorporated in Panyu County, Nanhai Prefecture. Since then, more and more people from the mainland have migrated to Hong Kong bringing with them labor resources and advanced production techniques, promoting its economy and society evidenced by the number of Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) coins that have been found throughout Hong Kong.
In 1955 the discovery of a well-preserved brick tomb in Kowloon -- with a Han-style structure, grave bricks and burial articles dating it to the early and middle period of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) -- connected Hong Kong’s pre-Qin and post-Han history, revealing the uninterrupted continuity of an advanced culture that was equal to that on the mainland.
Songwangtai stone inscriptions near Hong Kong International Airport and Song Dynasty stone engravings at Tianhou Temple, as well as coins and celadon ware, record the fall of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) by Yuan soldiers. Excavated chinaware from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) proves that Hong Kong was an important trade route between China’s mainland and Southeast Asia as well as Western countries at the start of the sixteenth century.
As is demonstrated by the discovery of Neolithic sites, Han graves, and cultural relics from the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, a unique cultural panorama has developed in Hong Kong with the long-standing and sophisticated Cathayan culture as its foundation, drawing some nourishment from the West and emerging as a metropolis and cultural melting pot in the twentieth century.
(China.org.cn, translated by Shao Da, March 19, 2003)