Chinese Oracle-Bone Inscriptions

Documentary heritage submitted by China and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2017.

© Institute of History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Scapula-bone inscription kept in Institute of Archaeology, CASS, published in the book Xiaotun Nandi Jiagu as No.751. This bone was inscribed with more than 13o characters, 16 sentences, which divided several times to sacrifice ancestors such as Ancestor named Shangjia, Ancestor named PaYi, Grand-Father Yi, Father Yi with different numbers of cattle, and using different methods.

Oracle-bone inscriptions were excavated from Yin Ruins in Anyang City, Henan Province, China. They were records of making divination and praying to gods by late Shang people from 1400 B.C.-1100 B.C.. The materials used for divination were mainly cattle scapulas and tortoise shells, as well as other animal bones. Omens were deciphered from the cracks made by burning bones. The divination involves all aspects of Shang dynasty, such as sacrifices, praying, king’s affairs, weather, harvest, military affairs, coming and going, etc.. Oracle bone inscriptions can be divided into several periods according to their forms and contents, based on which we could reconstruct the real royal genealogy of Shang dynasty, and make research on the important events of royal families and how people lived in Shang time. Oracle bone inscriptions are also the important materials to study the original configuration of Chinese characters and the earliest state of Chinese language grammar.

  • Year of submission: 2016
  • Year of inscription: 2017
  • Country: China
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