Coming from a country where humans only arrived around 1280 AD (approximately 700 years ago), anything that dates back further than that is always mesmerising.
In Hong Kong, where urban renewal takes on an accelerated pace and the old rarely survives the onslaught of the new, the possibility of seeing something dating back to before the discovery of New Zealand is a mouth-watering prospect.
When someone mentioned Hong Kong had a tomb dating back 800 years to the Han Dynasty I couldn’t wait to see it. The hunt was ON!
Over in Sham Shui Po we roamed the streets until we reached Lei Cheng Uk Estate.
Entering the park we found a dragon…
A CONCRETE dragon boat in fact …
But no tomb.
The park became a distraction until we realised the tomb was hidden to one side.
Inconspicuous, from the back the tomb looked like large mounds of dirt simply piled in a corner of the park. It took us a second look to realise it was indeed the tomb. Tracking around the park we found the formal entrance which is actually NOT in the park, but on the street. The tomb has a museum on the front that displays information on the discovery and eventual preservation of the tomb, along with a gallery where you can see some of the artefacts discovered within the tomb.
There is also a viewing area for the tomb itself. The viewing area was basically a very small room (maximum of 5 people standing) where behind glass the tomb lies silently. We were somewhat disappointed by this as we thought the tomb would be larger and more open for people to see, but as with many ancient cultural finds, the design of the tomb just doesn’t allow for this if the tomb itself is to be preserved for all perpetuity. The photo above makes the tomb look far more expansive and tall than it actually is. One would have to crouch down to enter. The tomb itself stretches out in a cross shape, however as you can see, only one part of the chamber is visible. Some of the bricks used to construct the tomb have patterns on them. Only a couple were visible through the viewing glass. Whilst it was amazing to be witness to something so old I have to admit it wasn’t as intriguing as the literature I had read on it or the photos I had seen previously. However, knowing that this is a site that will be preserved permanently is a refreshing relief.
In a side area near the tomb a gallery shows off some of the artefacts found when the tomb was excavated. Most of these are made of clay or brass and dominated by urns, however a few of these artefacts are quaintly curious in the form of clay buildings. This one above is a small clay granary.
Despite being a tomb, no human remains have ever been found here and so the mystery of who this tomb was actually for remains.
Whilst the tomb wasn’t as grand as I had expected, it was not uneventful or disappointing. The tomb represents a civilisation long gone remembered only through the incredibly rare sites like these. It gave me a better understanding of and appreciation for the history of this area while also allowing me to realise these sites aren’t always as grand as the pictures make them out to be.