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:


China discovers early characters that precede oracle bone inscriptions


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.


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.

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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