The known history of Hong Kong dates back to 7,000 years ago. The large quantity of unearthed cultural relics from archaeological excavations in Hong Kong in the 20th century showed that there was cultural development in the Hong Kong territory and that its culture was closely related to the ancient Lingnan (嶺南) culture. Both belong to the same cultural system and were under the influence of the Central Plains culture during the Xia (夏), Shang (商) and Zhou (周) dynasties.
According to historical records, the Hong Kong territory (including present-day Shenzhen﹝深圳﹞) was administered by China since the Qin (秦) and Han (漢) dynasties. Between the first year of Ming (明) Wanli (萬曆) reign in 1573 and before the British occupation during the Qing dynasty (清朝), the territory, which was equivalent to present-day Shenzhen and Hong Kong, was part of Xin’an County (新安縣) in Guangzhou Prefecture (廣州府). Hong Kong and Shenzhen thus share the same roots.
Before the British occupation, Hong Kong was a traditional fishing and farming society. It enjoyed a degree of historical importance - rather different from its modern status as a free port. For example, the Tang (唐) imperial court appointed a maritime trade ambassador in Guangzhou to manage the maritime trade. Meanwhile, Tuen Mun was an important outer port of Guangzhou on the Maritime Silk Road. From the beginning of the Song dynasty (宋朝), the connection between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland became closer. During the late Southern Song dynasty, the imperial ships docked near present-day Kowloon City. Their brief stay is commemorated by significant historical relics such as Sung Wong Toi. During the Song, Yuan (元) and Ming dynasties, southward migrations from the mainland grew, some of whom later became the founders of the Five Great Clans of the New Territories.
The history of Hong Kong dates back to the New Stone Age. In 1996, the Centre for Chinese Archaeology and Art at the Chinese University of Hong Kong worked in collaboration with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to excavate Tai Wan on Lamma Island, Hong Kong. They found 6,000-year-old relics of settlements.
This is a Tai Wan style coloured pottery plate from the New Stone Age. It was excavated from Tai Wan on Lamma Island in 1990 by archaeologists from Hong Kong and Sun Yat-sen University (中山大學) in Guangzhou. This artefact is closely related to those of the Gaomiao Culture (高廟文化) and Daxi Culture (大溪文化) in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River (長江).
In 1989, archaeologists from Hong Kong and Guangzhou excavated a jade blade and an intact charm from a Shang dynasty (商朝) tomb in Tai Wan on Lamma Island. They were classified as national treasure status cultural relics. The carving style of the blade from Tai Wan is identical to those from the tombs of the Erlitou (二里頭) ruins in western Henan Province (河南). This shows that the material civilisation and etiquette practice of the North China region spread to the south during the Shang dynasty.
The interior of the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb in Sham Shui Po. This cross-shaped tomb with a domed roof is the same as the Han Tomb discovered in Sima Mound (駟馬岡) in the eastern outskirts of Guangzhou. The discovery of the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb shows that Hong Kong and Guangdong share the same cultural identity.
Tuen Mun was recorded in an official Chinese history book. The photos show the record of Tuen Mun in the New Book of Tang (《新唐書》) and the Castle Peak Bay in Tuen Mun in the 1950s.
Sung Wong Toi is a testimony to the short stay of the two Southern Song emperors in Hong Kong.
The Sung Wong Toi Inscription Rock in present-day Sung Wong Toi Garden.
A map of the Xin’an County in the Xin’an County Chronicles in 1819. Places including Kowloon, Tuen Mun, Tap Mun, Stanley, Po Toi and Stonecutters Island were labelled in the map.
The ruin of the historic Xin’an County City Gate in Nantou (南頭), Shenzhen, testifying that Shenzhen and Hong Kong share the same roots.
The indigenous inhabitants in the New Territories in 1901 (left) and the about 700-year-old Tang Ancestral Hall in Ping Shan.
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