History of Hong Kong/Prehistoric times
- →Prehistoric times ←
- Imperial years
- Colonial days
- Modern age
They always say that Hong Kong used to be a little town, with farmers and fishermen in every street. That was long, long ago. But what happened before that? Surely those prehistoric Hongkongers can't do nothing? They would die of boredom, can't they?
Archaeologists have dug up quite a few artefacts to prove that the didn't do nothing. Traces of Neolithic culture have been spotted in many an archaeological site. Tools and other things made from stone and clay are tell-tale signs that there the people didn't just exist thousands of years ago, but made tools and stuff also. Historians mostly agree that the history of Hong Kong dates back to at least 4000BC, which is around the beginning of the Metal Age for the rest of the world, but still pretty neolithic for Hong Kong.
Prehistoric and historic
The prehistoric times refers to the age with no written record, and can only be studied through archaeology (which is hard) or stories passed down from generations (which are unreliable). The historic times refers to the age after that, with written record. The prehistoric times ended at different times in different places. For Hong Kong, it's around 221–206BC. The following diagram compares the starting-times of prehistoric times in different places:
The famous Sumerians were the first to cross the historic finishing line. That's what makes Mesopotamia so famous. The managed to invent writing before anyone else did. The second were the Egyptians, the third the Dravidians. It's only legend that Chanjie invented writing during the Yellow Emperor's reign, and the first known oracle script was from the Shang Dynasty, so we say that the Shangs started the prehistoric times of China. Hong Kong was yet to be part of China then, however.
After Qin Shihuangdi decided to conquer the other lords, he decided he needed more land (like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar). Besides, some of the barbarians of the north had started to disturb the Han people during the Warring States period, so Qin Shihuangdi tried to ward them (the Beidis, since that's what they called the barbarians of the north) off. And he decided he wanted to invade the land of the Nanmans (barbarians of the south) as well. As it turns out, those people are called the Yue people, and he took over Hong Kong while invading Yue lands. As he spread his writing to the South, Hong Kong started its prehistoric times.
Stone and Metal Ages
The Stone and Metal Ages, despite the apparent connexions, is not really the same thing as historic/prehistoric, or the dynasties. The Metal Age is simply a time when metals were used in tools rather than stones. This is because metals a stronger and more malleable, amongst other things. The part of the Metal Age when people used bronze is called the Bronze Age; the part when they used copper is the Copper Age; the part when they used iron is – guess what? – the Iron Age.
The Stone Age is divided into three ages: the Old Stone Age or the Paleolithic, the Middle Stone Age or the Mesolithic, and the New Stone Age or the Neolithic. People built very simple huts and made very simple tools in the Old Stone Age. In the Middle Stone Age, they started living near rivers and fished. In the New Stone Age they starting growing crops and raising livestock and lived in villages with barter systems.
You probably know all that already, so when was Hong Kong's Stone Ages? Most agree that there were people living in Hong Kong during the New Stone Age in 4000 BC.
|Remember that this is NOT in the Metal Age! Bear in mind that Hong Kong was not developed as quickly as the middle of China.|
The Metal Age of Hong Kong took place since 1500BC, around the time of the Shang Dynasty of China, the one founded by Tang of Shang. Read on to find out more...
The original inhabitants of the metropolis
Two peoples, the Yaos and the Yues, inhabited prehistoric Hong Kong. Both peoples are sinilised in Hong Kong.
The Yao people were originally from Wuling, Hunan, what is now called Changde. Two branches of the Yao people inhabited Guangdong. As Hong Kong is geographically located in Guangdong, the Yao people should have inhabited there, although there is no way of confirming that. There are records of a Yao riot in Lantau Island in the early Southern Song Dynasty, though, which is prove positive that the Yao had been in Hong Kong.
The Che people were a branch of the Yao people, and inhabited Guangdong. A lot of places in the New Territories have the character 'Che' in their names, such as Ping Che, Wo Che, etc., which means the Che people may have lived there. The stepped terraces they built are called Che fields.
The Yue or Baiyue people also inhabited Hong Kong. Note that names like Yue, Yueman or Baiyue are only collective names. They are not a unified people. The Yue people liked naming places with the character 'tung', meaning 'cave', and many places in Hong Kong end with 'tung'. Some rock carvings in Hong Kong see the Stone Age chapter for more on carvings) are of what look like birds, which were worshipped be the Yues.
The rest of the world hadn't been idle while Hong Kong developed its Stone Ages. Here's what happened 4000BC–200BC...
- 4000BC: Yangshao people in China are still neolithic. The Sumerians start to get civilised.
- 3200BC: Minos conquers Lower Egypt and unifies Egypt
- 3000BC: Sumerians invent writing, Minoans and Dravidians start to get civilised too.
- 2686BC: The Old Kingdom of Egypt starts
- 2040BC: The Middle Kingdom of Egypt starts
- 1500BC: The Indus Valley civilisation declines
- 1450BC: Mycenians conquer Minoans
- 1100BC: Dorians conquer Mycenians
- 800BC: City-states emerge in Greece
- 750BC: Start of the Spring and Autumn Period of China.
- 475BC: Start of the Warring States Period of China.
- 456BC: Western Roman Empire falls
- 323BC: Alexander dies