To most of the people, Tuen Mun, situated in the western part of Hong Kong, may only be associated with a satellite town in the territory. In fact, Tuen Mun, with a long history, had long been a traffic hub for local and overseas merchants and travelers and commanded a key position for coastal defence. According to the history books of Tang dynasty (AD 618-907), Tuen Mun was a place of military garrisons. In recent years, the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) has undertaken a number of archaeological excavations in Tuen Mun and discovered a large quantity of pre-historic relics and important archaeological sites in So Kwun Wat, Lung Kwu Chau and Castle Peak Bay, testifying the cultural heritage of the district.
To provide the general public with an opportunity to appreciate Hong Kong's rich heritage, the AMO has organised an exhibition entitled "Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Tuen Mun", which will be open from tomorrow (January 19) to April 11, 2002 at the Exhibition Gallery of Tuen Mun Town Hall. Featuring 50 sets of finely selected relics, the exhibition will give the viewers an idea of the achievements of the recent archaeological excavations in the district. Those who wish to learn more about the work of heritage conservation should not miss the educational corner in the exhibition gallery and the specially designed workshops.
Speaking at today's (January 18) opening ceremony of the exhibition, the Assistant Director (Heritage and Museums) of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mr Tony Ma Kai-loong, noted that the two territory-wide archaeological surveys conducted in 1986 and 1997 uncovered important archaeological sites in Tuen Mun.
He said, "Over the past ten years, the AMO has undertaken a number of archaeological excavations in Tuen Mun and discovered a large quantity of historical remains and sites of the Neolithic Period, the Bronze Age and the Han, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties at locations like Yung Lung, Lung Kwu Tan and So Kwun Wat. They serve to testify the long history and rich cultural heritage of Tuen Mun.
"The relics displayed in this exhibition are valuable heritage belonging to all the people of Hong Kong. Each of us should treasure and help to conserve our historical relics and monuments so that our future generations could also have a chance to admire them," said Mr Ma.
In Tuen Mun, Middle Neolithic (c.4,000 - 2,500 BC) remains have been found in Lung Kwu Chau, Lung Kwu Tan and Yung Long archaeological sites, indicating the presence of Neolithic activities along the coastal sandbars. Artefacts unearthed such as the painted pottery basins with ring-foot, painted pottery pots and fine corded coarse pottery cauldron, as well as tools such as stone beaters, adzes, discs, etc, suggest that the inhabitants there lived simply on hunting and fishing. These artifacts, bearing features which are the same as those found in Macau, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Gaoyao and Zengcheng, also show that during the prehistoric period, people living within the Pearl River Delta area shared the same cultural characteristics.
Besides, many significant Late Neolithic (c.2,500 - 1,500 BC) artefacts and relics have also been unearthed in Yung Long, Tsang Tsui, Lung Kwu Tan, Lung Kwu Sheung Tan, Lung Kwu Chau and Sha Chau archaeological sites. Several rows of postholes found in the Lung Kwu Tan archaeological site have suggested the presence of Neolithic pile dwelling structures. In the Yung Long archaeological site, relics such as firing hearths, postholes, workshops for manufacturing stone tools and burials, as well as fine stone slotted rings and stone Yue (ceremonial axe regarded as symbol of power) imply the development of a more complex social structure and suggest that prehistoric Pearl River Delta had cultural exchanges with not just the northern and eastern part of Guangdong, but as far away as the eastern coast of China as well.
As early as the 1920s, scholars collected in So Kwun Wat relics typical of the Bronze Age (c.1,500 - 221 BC), such as double-f pottery sherds, stone adzes and stone ring cores. In the recent years, archaeological finds, such as the bronze arrowheads and a bronze knife unearthed in the Lung Kwu Tan site, the double-f pottery sherds, the hard pottery sherds with geometric patterns and the stone knives uncovered in the Lung Kwu Sheung Tan site as well as the stone spearheads found in the So Kwun Wat site, have all proved that our ancestors once settled in Tuen Mun and the surrounding areas in the Bronze Age. According to historical records, the Bai Yue tribes had settled in southern China during Bronze Age. Therefore, the artifacts unearthed in Tuen Mun and other areas could have been left by the ancient Yue people.
No cultural remains of the Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 220) had ever been found in Tuen Mun in the past. Until recent years, sealed pottery pots typical of the period were unearthed in both Lung Kwu Sheung Tan and So Kwun Wat archaeological sites. In 2000, a total of over 60 bronze coins, "Ban Liang" and "Wu Zhu" were discovered in the Han dynasty hoard at the So Kwun Wat archaeological site. Found among the piles of coins were sherds of bamboo mats and linen pieces, which are particularly precious.
The history of Tuen Mun after the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907) can be seen in historical documentary records. Archaeological finds, however, have served to supplement the documents with concrete proof. Examples are the ruins of Tang dynasty kilns and green glazed porcelain found in the Siu Lam and Lung Kwu Tan archaeological sites. In such archaeological sites as Siu Hang Tsuen, San Hing Tsuen and Lung Kwu Sheung Tan, Song dynasty (AD 960-1279) porcelain and other ruins and relics of dwelling structures were also unearthed. During the recent rescue excavation in So Kwun Wat, more than 30 Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644) tombs were discovered, providing valuable information for the study of the burial customs at that time. Besides, the kiln found in the Nai Wai site illustrates the development of handicraft industry in the late Qing period (AD 1644-1911).
The Tuen Mun Town Hall is located at 3 Tuen Hi Road, Tuen Mun. The exhibition gallery opens from 10 am to 6 pm daily and closes on the first three days of the Chinese New Year. Admission is free.
For details of the exhibition, please call 2721 2326.
End/Friday, January 18, 2002