A news conference on the Chinese oracle bone inscriptions is held at the Palace Museum in Beijing, capital of China, Dec 26, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]
BEIJING — Chinese oracle bone inscriptions have been included on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, Chinese authorities announced on Dec 26.
Oracle bones are pieces of ox scapula or turtle plastron, which were used for divination during the late Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). They bear the earliest significant corpus of ancient Chinese writing and contain important historical information about the Shang.
“Chinese characters have had a far-reaching impact on the world, especially for neighboring countries, and made great contributions to world civilization,” said Deputy Minister of Education Du Zhanyuan, also head of the State Language Work Committee.
“The inclusion signals that the value of Chinese oracle bone inscriptions has been recognized by the world,” said Du.
Oracle bones from ancient China, hieroglyphs from ancient Egypt, cuneiforms from ancient Babylon, and Mayan glyphs from Mesoamerica are among the world’s most famous ancient writing systems, but oracle bones are the only ones that still survive, as they have evolved over time into current Chinese characters.
Around 160,000 pieces of oracle bone have been found so far, but of the 4,300 characters inscribed on them, only 1,600 have been decoded.
Director of the Palace Museum Shan Jixiang speaks at a news conference on the Chinese oracle bone inscriptions at the Palace Museum in Beijing, capital of China, Dec 26, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]