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The San Tau Archaeological site is found in Tung Chung Bay on the northern coast of Lantau Island. It faces Chek Lap Kok Airport. The study area is mainly comprised of quaternary alluvium of alluvial fan, eroded granite debris flow deposits, backbeach deposits and marine mudflats.
The previously done investigations are very essential for carrying out the research. The three previously done investigations include North Lantau survey of 1991 which produced Qing dynasty. The second study is the Tung Chung and Tai Ho Comprehensive Feasibility Study of 1998 which produced Tang dynasty deposit with large pottery sherds and Kaiyuan Tongbao. The third study is the 2nd Territory Wide Survey of 1998 which led to the discovery of complete pots, bronze ornaments, hairpins and an iron knife although no human remains were discovered.
The Ground penetrating radar (GPR) was necessary for the investigation. The GPR was generally used in order to provide a clear understanding of the archeological remains that were buried in their particular graves. The GPR also identified the dug tested pits. The GPR contains two antennas and an emitter that sends radio pulses to the ground and are reflected back to the receiver by the buried object. The excavation was thus properly guided by the GPR results since an accurate measure of the depth was received particularly by the length time taken for the reflection to return.
The excavation was carried out in 7 different graves, where 6 of them dated to mid-late Tang dynasty. The excavation produced pots smashing ritual, Kaiyuan Tongbao coins, a shiwan-made spouted wine jar with a drinking bowl, an iron harpoon head and a fish-hook. According to the 2011 results, anomalies in GPR date are identified as archeological remains, thus an indication that the cemetery extends across the entire backbeach. The 2011 investigation also gave detailed information that the cemetery was not for the locals, there were some northern connections with the early residents of the area perhaps maritime trade, and the residents had unique rituals. These thus made the 2012 research to be more intense since it was evident enough that more research was required in the area.
The 2012 excavation yielded better results than the previous research. This is mainly due to the close study of the data and drawing of reasonable conclusions from the previous excavations. Additionally, all the required items, and tools for the research were gathered in readiness for the 2012 research in San Tau.