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This page first appeared 20 October 1995.

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HotWired - World Beat: Planet Wired

Archeological excavations have revealed that Chek Lap Kok is no stranger to the designs of hominidae. The island has supported human culture for well over 3,500 years. When it became clear in 1989 that Hong Kong's new airport would require the leveling of Chek Lap Kok, the Hong Kong Archeological Society began a series of studies to determine the extent of the island's buried history. According to the Society, such work produced evidence of human occupation during the late Tang and Sung Dynasties (8th to 13th centuries AD) and the Neolithic period (4000 to 1500 BC).

In the months prior to construction, many artifacts were unearthed. Abandoned irrigation systems, burial grounds, coins and tools, limekilns, pottery, and ceramics - all were brought to light, providing a wealth of information about Hong Kong's early history. Many of these artifacts have been cataloged and placed on exhibit.

Until recently, Chek Lap Kok was an island of small agricultural and fishing villages half a world away from the twittering (aiff 84k, Real Audio 2 seconds) mobile phones of Hong Kong. At Ah Ma Man, a diminutive temple to the sea goddess Tin Hau has stood since 1823. The Antiquities and Monuments Office supervised the stone-by-stone removal of the old building to a more secure site in Tung Chung.

The island of Chek Lap Kok is itself history now, altered beyond recognition by explosives and earthmovers. Only a tiny portion of the original island will remain as a nature preserve and sound barrier - an island of history on an isle of the info age.

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