An Yang, ancient capital of the Shang Dynasty

Pangwanggeng must have liked this place pretty much that's why he chose to settle the capital here and used the river as a kind of natural shelter. This region was known as Yin and today it is known as the ruins of Yin.

It was around a river that the last capital of the Shang Dynasty flourished for nearly 300 years, a long time by the standards for any dynasty in China.

Behind these gates lies all the secrets that's been buried for thousands of years.

The Shang Dynasty was the second oldest dynasty in China's recorded history. It came right after the Xia Dynasty, around 1600 BC. The discovery of the Oracle inscriptions completed the missing links in an old puzzle. And the oracle inscriptions themselves proved a blessing and a treasure.

For archeologists, the oracle bones were like a portal into the early memory of human experience. After their discovery, Anyang city became a magnet, constantly attracting explorers and adventurers.

Although the oracle bones were recognized in the late 19th century, it was not until three decades later that the first serious Chinese archeologist paid a visit, and massive excavations were begun in Xiaotun village in Anyang. Despite initial doubts that there would be anything valuable left, people unearthed large numbers of oracle bones and eventually came upon what seemed to be the remains of buildings on the south bank of the Huanhe river. Later these were confirmed to be constructions from the Shang Dynasty. It looked as if the last Shang palace had been engulfed by fire. Now, after three thousand years' sleep, the Shang Dynasty was returning to the light.

Today, the restored Shang structure serves as a museum for the oracle bone inscriptions. The inscriptions were usually carved on tortoise shells and cow scapula, for the special purpose of prophecy. The tortoise shells were used because the creature was considered mysterious and powerful, with its longevity and ability to survive without food or water for a long time.

All four of the great ancient civilizations of the world, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Indians and the Chinese, had writing systems. But only the Chinese writing system continues today. The current Chinese characters are rooted in the oracle bone inscriptions. Yet for most Chinese, these early characters are unrecognizable. After many years of hard work, scholars are now only able to decipher just over a thousand of the characters. But it's enough to provide us with a lot of information. The inscriptions give us a vivid picture of the earliest efforts of people to describe the world in a direct and effective manner. For example, two persons entangled together means fighting. And water is a river flanked by droplets. There is one important character. It's Zhen, which was interpreted as divination. And that's what most of these inscriptions were related to.

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