Shang Dynasty Develops Writing and Bronzework (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: The Shang begin writing in the form of oracle-bone inscriptions and engravings on bronze objects, such as ritual vessels and weapons, becoming the first Chinese dynasty that can be archaeologically authenticated.
Summary of Event
In the Neolithic era, several cultures began to develop in China. Chinese histories refer to the oldest dynasties as the Xia (Hsia; c. 2100-1600 b.c.e.) and the Shang (c. 1600-1066 b.c.e.), both of which were considered mythical until the nineteenth century. The finding of characters or buci written on oracle bones in the winter of 1899 in Henan Province on the site of Yinxu (Yin-Hsü), the presumed last capital of the Shang Dynasty, provided early evidence that it had indeed existed. Subsequent findings of more oracle bones along with bronze vessels gave substantial information about that civilization.
The buci are the only inscriptions to have survived from the Shang era (court records were transcribed onto bamboo rolls, which have long gone to dust). They consist of inscriptions added after the bones or turtle shells had been fired, and were apparently intended to serve as the proper interpretation of the crack patterns the heat had created. The inscription of the buci appears to have followed an established practice, and included the date of the divination, the name of the oracle who had performed the ceremony, and two statements with...
(The entire section is 1622 words.)
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