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Archaeological Work in Hong Kong

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Discuss the range of archeological evidences and environmental which allow archeologists to view Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta as one connected area in pre-history.

Both Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta are located at the China’s SouthCoast. They have deep natural harbors and expansive skylines. The experience of the inhabitants in this two different regions shape the urban landscape socially and culturally. According to Meacham, features in an urban landscape can include physical artifacts like architecture, less tangible notions such as the spatial relationships between buildings and people, as well as intangible perceptions like sounds and smells (Meacham and Meacham 2009: 212). Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta are two very different geographical regions that have some similarities in their archeological history. By Du Cros and Yok-shiu, landscapes are physically and culturally constructed through time and space and represent a history that has a beginning, middle and an end (Du Cros and Yok-shiu 2007: 98). This, therefore, indicates that Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta have a similar historical background.

The analyzed areas have some similar historical evidence, for example, the painted chalky and white ware, axes and ground adzes as some of their typical artifacts. They also have some pottery, which is characterized by geometric patterns. The two regions show some cultural discontinuity and continuity in that they both have very many archeological sites. Most of these sites are Coastal which are quite small.

The Bronze Age was characterized by the use of photo-writing, alloys of bronze, copper, and specific features related to urban civilization. Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta have some similar characteristics of how they behaved during the Bronze Age. Their buildings especially have historical similarities though technology has now made a difference. People living in the Bronze Age constructed similar buildings or structures, but today everything is different in the name of technology. This is because the latter entails of new designs from the architectures and hence the very big gap.

Hong Kong is enclosed by the Pearl River Delta, and thus archeologists can gather similar archeological information for the two regions which are very different today. People living together have a high degree of possibility of sharing some historical evidence. The cultural identity of persons living in these two regions was similar though is extremely different now due to the difference in terms of development. Both communities living in this region were among the earliest farmers with domesticated animals. This indicates that people living in the Bronze Age in Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta have similar archeological identity. Archeologists can therefore relate their historical similarities with ease.

Discuss the archeological evidence for pre-historic houses in the Hong Kong-Pearl River Delta region in terms of the physical remains. Discuss how the remains have been reconstructed and interpreted.

Hong Kong began archeology in the year 1920 through the discovery of stone adzes near the coast. Archeologists have come up with two cultural phases. The first one is the Neolithic phase characterized by fine earthenware pottery and polished stone tools. The second is the Bronze Age which was characterized by bronze artifacts and stoneware ceramic. Archeologists discovered a large Han chamber tomb which lead to more extensive excavations and later came up with the Bronze Age site situated at the Lantau Island (Ingham 2007: 27). The earliest inhabitants of Hong Kong were the coastal people who lived in lagoons and bays of the small islands. These people probably ventured into fishing. Dune or beach deposits are some of the Neolithic sites in Hong Kong where bones and remains of such animals as pigs have been found. These people produced various vessels with very different shapes.

Post mortem was practiced among the early inhabitants through perforations of the lower jawbones and also inhumation burials or cremation. The early inhabitants also practiced secondary burials through the placement of stone tools and whole pots in small pits. This has today been modified to anniversaries.

The early inhabitants were good artisans who made very many and different carvings. This has today been modified into statues all over Hong Kong. A good example is the Guan Yin statue which is the tallest in the world. This indicated a development in skills among the people of China. The caves which were earlier used for the storage and display of their work of art have now been modified into museums: for instance, the Hong KongMaritimeMuseum. The LantauIsland is a historical location up-to-date back from Bronze Age (Veeck, Pannel, and Huang 2007: 35). Monuments have been constructed there such as the Guan Yin which is aimed at encouraging the local Buddhists. The earlier cultural practices are at some point being applied up-to-date by the Chinese. These include anniversaries which were done through the placement of pots in the small holes. Some of the early inhabitants were very good navigators and the skill has been passed on to the current generations. Many of them traded just like the present China which is rank the second super power. Cultivation has also been modified in the modern-day China in crops such as rice. Today rice of a very good quality is produced in the country.

What are the major technological innovations and material culture changes that occurred during the Hong Kong Bronze Age? What do the changes tell us about the nature of the local communities?

Man was at the beginning of the Neolithic period a primitive food gatherer till the end of the period, where he became a food-producer. Most of the evidence of the Neolithic period is from cave sites. The melting of the glaciers and the rising of the sea level formed beaches which elevated evidence of the presence of human beings in Hong Kong. Representatives of the Neolithic period lived in lagoons and bays of the small islands with very good anchorage and also ventured in the open sea fishing. The Neolithic sites are located in beaches or dunes 4 -6 meters above sea level. The inhabitants had a wide knowledge of pottery and came up with very different types of vessels. There were two types of pottery; first was the coarse sandy ware and second were those made of soft fine paste (Manzanilla 1987: 97).

Post mortem was done to the dead by perforating their lower jaws and later cremation or inhumation burials were done. Secondary burial was also practiced through placement of stone tools and pots in the small pits. Later burial pits were discovered. The Neolithic period was marked by grey ware and some geometric designs which replaced the incised ware. The TomboloIsland was used in both the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Other sites are at the mouths of lagoons or bays which were well-sheltered and sometimes for agriculture though the sea was as well a source of food.

 The Bronze Age marked the end of the Neolithic period and is viewed as the light of civilization from the barbaric ways. Life was not very different from that of the Neolithic period. Sand bars and bays were still the most preferred sites in this time while the importance of the TomboloIsland decreased. Fishing was still a major source of food. These people specialized on one type of food for unknown reasons.

Bronze artifacts were introduced which were used to make knives, fish hooks and axe heads. People living on the near Islands such as Guangdong were found to have similar cultural identities pointing the presence of social interactions. A kiln, which was used to make fine paste pottery, was introduced at the New Stone Age. There were few kilns meaning that a few people had specialized in making and using them. It was during this time that residents produced rock carvings along the coast which had ceremonial or religious evidence. The people in this period were likely to have interacted with other groups of people who taught them some skills or shared with them their skills (Harris 1994: 94). This is evident because similar characteristics were observed in other Islands such as the Guangdong Island. These people might have met during their gathering practices and interacted.

The Hong Kong-Pearl River Delta region is important for the Middle Neolithic development of bark-cloth. How does the development and the geographical spread of such technology through time appears to connect the Hong Kong-Pearl River Delta with wider diasporas of Neolithic rice farmers into island South East Asia and beyond.

Bark-cloth is used to refer to the felted bark fibers that were produced through application of pressure, heat and moisture without including unbeaten bark. It is obtained from some specific tree and herb species after boiling and beating their inner barks. Bark-cloth production was first evident in Hong Kong along the coast. In Cameron’s words, because of geographic proximity, the parallels between the beaters from South China and those from South East China have previously been interpreted as evidence for diffusion from South China rather than independent invention (Higham 1996).

According to Phillipson, Shane and Bick-har, topological reconstructions are based on the premise that similarities in artifacts form are the result of a shared mental template, which was first demonstrated by the people from Hong Kong (Phillipson, Shane and Bick-har 2011: 21). The use of bark-cloth in different regions was distinguished by the type of movement it exists between different groups of people in the various geographical regions. Most of it was characterized by the trans-oceanic movements to different areas during the Neolithic period (Ingham 2007: 20). Just like the spread of bark-cloth, rice is believed to have spread through the same way. This spread included the trans-oceanic movement of people to some specific areas. Though these two commodities spread, it is not everybody who was able to have access or use it since of the selected movement to the certain areas.

Everything in this world is believed to have originated from a point and spread to the rest of the world. Ideas, cultural practices, and other things such as technology are first put into practice by one person. For them to spread to the rest of the world, people involved must first be interested in it and later buy the idea. Bark-cloth and rice are then believed to have spread to the other parts through interest and buying of ideas. The other way which could have facilitated the mentioned process of the two commodities is trying them out and finding out that they are worth using. The early inhabitants were good learners who put into practice what the learned for example in the case of bark-cloth which needed skills to make. Rice spread through trial to South East Asia.

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