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All aboard for a 3,000-year journey

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-23 09:57

Anyang in Henan province is known for cultural sites such as the 3,300-year-old Yinxu Ruins and the Ruins of the City of Youli. XU LIN/CHINA DAILY

In Anyang a hearty breakfast is essential before undertaking a day trip, which is likely to take in the 3,300-year-old Yinxu Ruins. These are one of China's best-known archaeological sites and were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2006. It was here that the earliest known Chinese written characters were excavated.

Sacrificial culture and divination practice prevailed in the Shang Dynasty, so be prepared to see large sacrifice pits with a human skeleton, in many cases those of slaves or prisoners, and animal skeletons as well.

Diviners in the Shang Dynasty chiseled small holes and notches on tortoise shells or ox scapulae, and put them on a fire for a while, reading the burned cracks as omens and making use of them in divination.

Diviners also verified whether predictions came to pass and etched the whole process of divination on the same bone, and archived valuable oracle bones.

In 1936 more than 17,000 pieces of oracle bone inscriptions were discovered in the Yinxu Ruins, covering various topics, such as sacrifices for ancestors, hunting, the weather, harvests and diseases.

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