Relics found behind St. Paul’s Ruins

Monday, May 31, 2010
Issue 1025, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 831
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Archaeologists from Beijing discovered part of an ancient wall and some artifacts from the Qing Dynasty to the early years of the Republic of China behind the Ruins of St. Paul’s area.

The team from the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) was commissioned by the Cultural Affairs Bureau (ICM) to implement archaeological work starting April in Rua de D. Belchior Carneiro and Patio do Espinho respectively, an attempt to search for the historic sites of St. Paul’s College and the ancient wall.

The Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT), ICM and the archaeological team gave a press conference yesterday at the Museum of Macao to announce the findings in the first phase of the work.

The cross-departmental group said the archaeological results carried “significant values and meanings” and were beneficial to “merge the historical environment within the Ruins of St. Paul’s area”.

Since the four buildings of the civil servant quarters in Rua de D. Belchior Carneiro were believed to be where St. Paul’s College used to be located, DSSOPT in March first demolished the two blocks closer to the Ruins of St. Paul’s in a bid to make room for the archaeological project.

A 735 square-metre clod ground surface measuring 1.5 metres long in the south and north and 3.5 metres long in the east and west was found, which the archaeologists said was formed before the civil servant quarters were built in the 1960s.

The clod ground surface seems to be extending to the other two quarters. DSSOPT plans to demolish the remaining two buildings this week.

In addition, the experts dug out some artifacts including Chinese-style porcelain tiles, eaves tiles, potteries and iron artillery shells dated back between the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912) and the early years of the Republic of China.

Furthermore, the archaeological team discovered part of an ancient wall in a construction site in the east of Patio do Espinho.

It measures 15.5 metres long in the south and north, and the east and west sides of the wall already showed 1.27 metres long and 2.45 metres high.

The archaeologists said the ancient wall connected the old city walls of the Mount Fortress to the south, and the north enclosing wall of Patio do Espinho to the north.

It was showed that the ancient wall was constructed by at least five layers of stones as the foundation, and on top of them there were one to two layers of blue bricks as well as rammed earth with each layer measuring five to 10 centimetres thick.

The archaeological team said the south side of the ancient wall might be a passage going to the east and the west, based on the preliminary judgement.

After comparing with the old maps of Macau from the 18th to 20th centuries, the archaeologists confirmed that what was found was part of the ancient wall.

However, the experts needed more time and efforts to determine whether or not the wall was the east enclosing wall of St. Paul’s College, the Mount Fortress’ north old city walls or had the integrated functions.

In order to implement the next phase of the archaeological work as soon as possible, the government will knock down the two vacant civil servant quarters buildings in the coming days.

The archaeologist team said they believed that there will be another part of the ancient wall underneath the two remaining quarters.

As for the initial proposal of building a car park at the site of the civil servant quarters, DSSOPT said it will depend on the archaeological results.

The original timetable suggested that all the work would be completed in the third quarter of this year. However, the schedule may have to be pushed back since the clod ground surface was from the Qing Dynasty and no other relics from the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) were yet found.

St. Paul’s College was believed to be built during the Ming Dynasty.

In addition, the cross-departmental group told reporters that if the archaeological work could be completed this year, it is hoped that the government can then decide how the historic site will be used, adding opinions will be collected from different sectors in society.

On the other hand, the SAR government will formulate the overall planning of the core area of the Ruins of St. Paul’s based on the final archaeological results.

The government will also carry out related research work under the priorities of protecting historical and cultural assets, upgrading the overall environmental quality and creating opportunities for economic diversification, the cross-departmental group said.

The overall planning of the Ruins of St. Paul’s involves the areas of heritage conservation, tourism, people’s livelihood, transportation and culture. In order to make the planning achieve a win-win situation that can maintain historical and cultural values as well as give rise to economic development, the cross-departmental group said after the preliminary research is done, the public will be consulted to further optimise the content.


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