older than oracle bones?

October 24th, 2008

Here’s an interesting report on 京报网: it turns out that bones unearthed four years ago in Shandong bear the inscriptions of a very early form of writing:

中国发现早于甲骨文的早期文字

China discovers early characters that precede oracle bone inscriptions

中国考古专家最新考证表明,4年前在中国东部山东省昌乐县集中出土的100多块兽甲骨上所刻的600多个符号,结构和布局有一定的规律可循,应为距今约4500年的中国早期文字。

Chinese archaeologists’ latest discoveries show that the composition and design of the more than 600 symbols inscribed on over 100 animal bones and shells unearthed mostly in Changle County, east China’s Shandong Province four years ago, follow a regular pattern, and are probably early Chinese characters from 4500 years before present.

2004年,昌乐县一民间收藏爱好者肖广德在昌乐县袁家庄古遗址上采集陶器标本时发现,当地农民在施工挖掘时,丢弃了许多亚化石状远古兽骨,经过清理,可见上面有许多刻划痕迹明显的图案符号。

In 2004, Changle County amateur collector Xiao Guangde, while he was collecting pottery specimens in the ancient ruins of Changle County’s Yuanjiazhuang, discovered local farmers, as they were digging on a construction project, had discarded many ancient animal bones in a sub-fossilised state. After cleaning, the traces of many designs and symbols engraved on the bones could be clearly seen.

专家们研究认为,这批骨刻文字主要出土在昌乐古遗址,又被昌乐爱好者收藏,暂定名为“昌乐骨刻文”。虽然目前尚不能破译,但其发现对研究中国古文字的演变过程,复原当时的社会形态,提供了宝贵的佐证。
Researching experts consider that these characters inscribed on bone unearthed mainly from ancient ruins in Changle, collected by a Changle amateur, could be temporarily named “Changle bone inscription characters”. Although at present they have not yet been deciphered, this discovery will brought valuable assistance to the research into the development process of ancient Chinese characters and the reconstruction of the pattern of society of the time.

Now, I’m sorry, that has got to be the worst translation I have ever done. I’m sure you all noticed there were many phrases I was really struggling with. Help clarifying all that would be much appreciated.

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