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    Evidence of ancient lime-kiln factory
Eddie Luk
2004-05-11 06:54

Road work at a Mong Kok site where four 1,800-year-old pots were unearthed continues to be suspended as new discoveries were made by the Antiquities and Monuments Office.

Yesterday's discoveries include a broken piece of pot, similar to the four flat-bottomed pots found at the site last Friday. Also found were fragments of a lime kiln dating back at least 1,000 years.

The office said yesterday that more than 50 ancient artefacts were unearthed in the trench at the junction of Tung Choi Street and Soy Street.

Aside from the Jin Dynasty (265-420) pots and the Tang Dynasty (618-907) kiln fragments, there were also two 2,000-year-old Han Dynasty (BC206-220) broken cooking pots.

The office said it was yet decided whether those unearthed lime kiln fragments will be put on public display.

The drainage work was suspended last week after four reddish ceramic pots, which were produced in the period between the Jin Dynasty and the Han Dynasty, were found in the trench. The trench was about two metres below street level.

"We expect our excavation work to continue in the next three or four days so we can discover all relics at the site," a spokeswoman for the office said.

"We have already liaisoned with the Drainage Services Department to ask them to suspend the drainage work. The department will also offer us manpower and machines to help our excavation work," she said.

Drainage work at the Mong Kok site began about a month ago as part of the West Kowloon Drainage Improvement Project.

Assistant curator for the office Li Long-lam said yesterday's find was absolutely startling although those artefacts were already damaged.

"This is the first time we have found lime-kiln fragment relics in the urban district since some were found in the discovery of Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb nearly 50 years ago."

Li believed that the place could be a small part of a lime kiln factory of ancient times.

"At this time, we don't know how big the size of the factory was underground. According to our past experience, some discovered kiln-making factories in our city can be as large as 100 square metres in length and 20 square metres in width," he said.

However, Li also added that the place could have been a coastline in ancient times and so artefacts produced in different dynasties were accumulated there.

Although those unearthed kiln fragments have no huge economic value in market, their discovery is expected to shed new light on Hong Kong's history.

Currently more than 50 sites featuring kiln relics have been found in Hong Kong. But the discovery of such ancient relics in an urban area is rare. The four pots unearthed last week range in height from 5.8 to 18.7 centimetres.

They are now on display at the Hong Kong Museum of History in Tsim Sha Tsui.

(HK Edition 05/11/2004 page2)


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