China recently unearthed again inscribed oracle bones, or inscribed tortoise shells or animal bones, of the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th-11th century BC) in Daxinzhuang Shang ruins, more than 100 years later of the nation's first discovery of inscribed animal bones and tortoise shells in Anyang City of central China's Henan Province.
This time's excavation area is located at the south-east of Daxinzhuang ruins, and 30 "tanfang" (artificial pits in dimension of 10*10 meter or 5*5 meter, as a method in archaeological works) were excavated, said professor Fang Hui of archaeological department of Shandong University at a news briefing on April 8, who is in charge of the excavation work.
The inscribed bones found this time are from four "tanfang" of Shang culture layers. Eight pieces carrying Chinese characters have been sorted out, four of them could be pieced together into a whole page, including 25 characters. They have been confirmed, through the shape of bones, character and grammar, to belong to the same group of inscriptions unearthed in Anyang City a century ago.
Judging from their location, character and other data, the Daxinzhuang bones should be no later than the third-stage of Shang ruins culture, about 3200 years from today.
The first discovery of Anyang inscribed bones in 1899 shocked the world. After that archaeological workers have been searching for similar bones out of the main area of Yin ruins, but found nothing.
Li Xueqin, chief scientist of the state's research project on the history of the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties, was quite excited about the discovery. "Today is very important for China's archaeological works and studies, this is the second discovery 104 years later of the Anyang inscribed bones. This is a landmark in China's archaeological history and will surely cast long-term impact on studies of ancient Chinese history and oracle pieces", he said.
Located at the Licheng district of Jinan City, Shandong Province, the Daxinzhuang ruins is a relic of Shang culture founded in the 1930s. Then cultural relic departments of the province and Shandong University conducted many investigation over the site and proved an area over 300,000 square meters, the biggest Shang ruins known to the province.
(People’s Daily April 10, 2003)