- Archaeologists have unearthed a series of caves and tunnels in the New Territories that seem to have been used to perform music
- Even more exciting is the prehistoric art featuring seven men inside a heart shape
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Archaeologists in Hong Kong made a dramatic discovery last week – one that could suggest an ancient culture predicted the future of popular music.
After an old residential building was demolished last month Sheung Shui, in the northern New Territories, builders discovered the entrance to a series of elaborate underground caves connected by tunnels. Archaeologists with Hong Kong’s Antiquated Monuments Office have been excavating and exploring the area since, hoping to learn more about the ancient people who built them and what their purpose was.
Dr Joe K. Y. Ng, who works with the Antiquities Office, said the find was shocking enough and a huge discovery for the city, but what he saw inside blew him away.
“Crudely drawn using their fingers, someone painted seven figures of varying heights inside a giant heart. Written above in prehistoric script is a word that spells out the sounds ‘Bang Tan’,” Ng said. Given the placement of the word next to the image, the archaeologists believe this is either a word meaning “a group of beloved people” – or that the ancient peoples predicted the arrival of K-pop band BTS.
“We’re certain no one has set foot in here in thousands of years,” he said, adding that the style and pigment used in the painting matched others found around the Southern China region during the same time period.
“It’s definitely not a recent painting.”
Could ancient people have foretold the rise of the K-pop stars? Photo: APOne hypothesis as to the purpose of the cave system is that it was used for musical performances. The acoustics there are very good, and sound carries well through the tunnels.
What’s more, Ng and his crew also discovered a crude drum made out of animal skin and wood, as well as a horn with holes drilled into it, possibly used like a flute.
Fellow archaeologist Dr Fun Yi-li has a very specific reason for supporting the idea that the cave drawing contains a prophecy.
While walking through the tunnels, she realised the sound of her footsteps echoing off the walls resembled the chorus to the famous band’s hit song Dynamite.
“My daughter listens to that song non-stop. I’d recognise it anywhere,” she said.
Historians have long suspected Hong Kong was once home to an ancient nomadic tribe called the Ah Mei. While they originated in the Korean Peninsula, they spread all around the world. Evidence of their existence has been found in areas as far afield as Europe and North America.
The Ah Mei were known for extravagant dances and for decorating themselves with colourful fabrics and paints. They were fiercely protective of their tribe. While their language shared some commonalities with other prehistoric languages in the region, their dialect was often difficult for non-tribe members to understand.
The Ah Mei have been mentioned in texts throughout history, especially in South Korea, but this is the first proof of their existence in Hong Kong.
It is likely they lived in the area around the same time as other ancient civilisations such as the Keungtos, Tai Los and Shawmens, but records suggest they were able to coexist peacefully, without much conflict.
This isn’t the first time archaeological finds have seemingly predicted the future; in 2003, archaeologists in Egypt unearthed a mummy with a message written in hieroglyphics that said: “I exact my revenge when the parasite wins.”
In early 2020, shortly after the South Korean film Parasite won the Oscar for best film, everyone involved in the 2003 disappeared under mysterious circumstances. In each of their homes, a small pile of bandages and dirt was found.
BTS was not available for comment, but in a retweet of the excavation news story, Jungkook commented with a “wink” emoji.