HK's most comprehensive early human settlement has been discovered in Sai Kung and dates to the Neolithic period The most comprehensive early human settlement in Hong Kong's archaeological history has been unearthed in Sai Kung, giving a full picture of how society developed in the Pearl River Delta region. Archaeologists also believe a more exact and detailed chronicle of Chinese history can be mapped out through an in-depth study of the Sha Ha archaeological site as it spans more than 4,000 years. Major discoveries, including stone tools, post holes, pottery, adzes (cutting tools) and graves have been excavated from the site - which extends from the Sha Kok Mei temporary housing area to the Beach Resort hotel. Post holes were made when wooden posts were erected to build stilted homes. The excavations took place between October 2001 and September last year. However, piecing together the history will take a long time, and it is expected the full report on the findings will only be compiled and made public in a year's time. Kevin Sun Tak-wing, curator (archaeology) at the Antiquities and Monuments Office, said it was the most comprehensive settlement ever excavated in Hong Kong. 'It can offer a complete picture of people's life in the early days,' he said. The site, which measures more than 3,000 square metres, has been divided into four areas, with each being overseen by one of four mainland archaeological teams - from Shaanxi, Hebei, Henan and Guangdong provinces, who have joined with the monuments office to carry out the excavation work. The post-excavation work, initially scheduled to start early this year, was delayed to October because of the Sars outbreak. Some archaeologists with the teams have returned to Hong Kong to reconstruct the hundreds of shattered pieces of artefacts, which are now stored at the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village. The architects are scheduled to leave before the Lunar New Year holiday next month and will return to compile a full report on the findings later. One of the Guangzhou team leaders now in Hong Kong, Quan Hong, deputy director of the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Guangzhou, said about 600 stone tools and 700 reconstructed pottery vessels had been found by his team. Mr Quan said the most important artefacts discovered in the area included a stone tools production workplace from the Neolithic period (2500 to 1500BC), graves from the Xia and Shang dynasties (2000 to 1027BC), pottery pots from the Spring, Autumn and Warring States Period (770 to 221BC) and pits, where rubbish was dumped, from the Song dynasty (420 to 478AD). He said nine graves with burial objects, such as pots and stone tools, had been found at the site, but there were no traces of skeletons. 'The pots discovered in the graves are very large, so it's very likely that the people who were buried here were not ordinary people ... they might be wealthier and more powerful,' Mr Quan said. Describing the archaeological site as a 'sandbar settlement' that was a pattern commonly found in Hong Kong, he said whether this kind of settlement was for permanent residency or for hunting and gathering remained an unsolved question. 'There are very few sites which would have post holes, stone tools production workplaces and graves in Hong Kong and the Guangdong area,' Mr Quan said. He said the site was a valuable resource for archaeological study in the Pearl River Delta region. Hong Kong has identified 220 archaeological sites since the monuments office was set up in 1976.