1. Chinese Oracle Bone, Ox Scapula, bone fragment with scratched inscription containing 14 characters in 4 columns, marked, in a modern red and gold silk-covered box, c. 70 x 85 mm., [Anyang, China,fourteenth - twelfth century B.C.].
est. £600 – £800
Nearly all known Chinese oracle bones derive from a single site, Xiaotun, near the ancient capital of the Late Shang Dynasty of Anyang. The texts found on them record the oracular interpretation of the pattern of cracks on the bone formed by the application of extreme heat and are the earliest preserved evidence of the use of Chinese script in complete meaningful sentences. They are thought to date from the 14th to the 12th century B.C. and to belong to a royal archive of oracular records.