Hong Kong Archaeology - an Overview

The word "Kaugu" (Archaeology) first appeared in China in Northern Song dynasty in the book "Kaugu Tu" by scholar Lu Dalin in AD1092.  210 bronze objects and 13 jade objects have been studied in this book.  Artefact studies (Epigraphy) was well-developed during the Song dynasty, with particular focus on bronze and jade artefacts.  In Chinese terms, "Kaugu" was actually ancient relic studies.

Epigraphy and Archaeology have different research methods.  Epigraphy concerns the study of artefact itself in isolation, while Archaeology is the study of past human lives, their societies and economies through systematic excavations, which generates data by understanding stratigraphy, artefact typologies and archaeological features. Until the 20th century, fieldwork-based archaeology with the aims to reconstruct past human societies, histories and cultural explanation were introduced into China.  This is marked by the excavation of Xiyin village of Xia County, Shanxi Province by Mr. Li Ji in 1923.

Due to migration, war, geographical factors etc., most archaeological features and artefacts are buried underground, and became "archaeological sites".  Whenever strata with remnants of ancient culture exists, it is termed "cultural layer".  Archaeological site must be excavated systematically and surveyed scientifically in order to reveal useful information.  Therefore, modern archaeologists must make their ways into the ruins to gather research information from each site.

Archaeological excavations not only seeking artefacts and remnants, but also to record their synchronic and diachronic context relationship.  Synchronic refers to the relationship between artefacts and remnants in the same time period, while Diachronic refers to the relationship of artefacts and remnants through time.  The stratigraphy provided both synchronic and diachronic  through the material evidences.


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