History of Hong Kong/Prehistoric times/Stone Age

Everything has to have a beginning, including humanity. So far, the earliest confirmed date with ancient people in Hong Kong was around 4000BC. The lifestyles of those people were classified as neolithic: building houses by the sea and all that. Stone tools are not the only artefacts discovered: pottery, human skeletons and fossils, and many other things have been discovered.

Rock carvings are found in many places of Hong Kong. Most believe that they were used for religious rituals. The people of neolithic Hong Kong belonged to a group of people in South China who produced pottery with geometric patterns. Hong Kong, along with Qujiang, are the two major archaeological sites.

Some sites


Sham Wan

Date 1971–76
Location Sham Wan, Lamma Island
Artefacts Tools, pottery, skeletons and fossils.

Ma Wan

Date 1997
Reconstruction of a woman created from an excavated skull from the Ma Wan Archaeological Site.
Location Ma Wan
Artefacts Tombs of preshistoric people, some pottery and other artefacts
Remarks The prehistoric people there are named the Ma Wan people. The site is the only in the Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) Delta where human bones and skeletons are found. In 1997, the site was elected as one of the 10 most important new archeological discoveries in China.

Sha Ha

Date 2001–2
Location Sha Ha, Sai Kung
Artefacts Tombs, houses, stone tool workshops along with more stone tools
Remarks Stone age artefacts were not the only things found there. There were also artefacts from other times, such as the Bronze Age and succeeding dynasties.

Rock carvings

The Big Wave Bay rock carving

Prehistoric Hong Kong people loved carving pictures on rocks. These rock carvings are probably for religious rituals that are carried out before the stone age people went fishing. The rock carvings have been spotted in numerous coastal regions including Cheung Chau, Tung Lung Island, Po Toi Island and Big Wave Bay.

Many of these rock carvivings are declared monuments of Hong Kong. A declared monument a place that is of historic value and is thus protected by the law. Monuments 1, 2, 5, 6, 14 and 16 are the rock carvings. For a complete list of them, please see Wikipedia's list of declared monuments.

Geometric patterns


Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) is a river that flows in South China. Hong Kong is located in the Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) Delta. In the prehistoric times, Pearl River (Chu Kong/Zhu Jiang) is hot and wet, and filled with forests and swamps. This hot, humid, and swampy place is where a culture began. The culture, known is Chinese as 幾何印紋圖文化 (lit. 'imprint of geometric patterns culture'), covers the area of South China, including Kwong Tung (Guangdong) and Kwong Sai (Guangxi).

The culture was part of the Bak Yueh (Baiyue) culture, which are ancient Cantonese people. Hong Kong being part of this culture, the pottery unearthed contains a distinctive specialty which is present in most of the pottery of this culture: geometric patterns, hence the name.

The pottery is mostly grey, brown and red. Some of the pottery was done by coiling (more about the technique on Wikipedia). Moulds with geometric patterns were also made to press on the pottery. Such geometric patterns include waves, rhombi and kui-dragon patterns.