Tung Wan Tsai North, Ma Wan
In 1997, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage commissioned the China Cultural Relics News Office to appoint experts to select 10 major archaeological discoveries in China from the 479 archaeological excavations conducted that year, and the archaeological excavation at Tung Wan Tsai North, Ma Wan, jointly conducted by the AMO and the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was included by the experts in their list of the “Ten Most Significant New Archaeological Discoveries in China in 1997”.
The excavation at Tung Wan Tsai North was carried out between June and November 1997, and the archaeological team discovered 20 burials together with the remains of habitation at the site. Spectacular findings, these rich cultural relics from the Pearl River Delta date from the Middle and Late Neolithic to the early Bronze Age and thus provide valuable information for the study of the culture of Hong Kong, the Lingnan area during the pre-historical period.
The 20 graves from the Late Neolithic to the early Bronze Age (c. 2000 – 1000 BC) were found in a sandbar and appeared to have been laid out in a definite order. Human remains of men, women and children were discovered in 15 of the burials, and funerary goods comprising pottery and stone artefacts were also found. The pottery was mainly in the form of pots and jars, while the stone artefacts included axes, adzes, arrowheads, spearheads, whetstones, slotted rings, rings, bracelets and tube ornaments. Jade and shell decorations were also found.
The unearthing of the well-preserved skeletal remains of ancient people is one of the most important discoveries to have been made at Tung Wan Tsai North and is significant not only for Hong Kong but for the whole of the Pearl River Delta. The initial examinations by physical anthropologists revealed that the remains bore general characteristics both of the Asian Mongoloid race and of certain populations in tropical areas. The discovery is crucial for understanding the relationship between local Neolithic settlers and inhabitants of the region, particularly in terms of the racial history of its indigenous people.