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7,000 year old pottery tools and symbols.

updated mon 17 apr 06


Ama Menec on mon 17 apr 06

I'm just starting to get through my backlog of Stone Pages, (ancient
archaeology e-newsletter) articles and saw this:

Pottery offers clues to origin of Chinese characters

Chinese archaeologists claim that pottery tools dating back 7,000
years ago which bear inscriptions of various symbols are probably one
of the origins of Chinese characters. They made the claim on the
basis of several years' study into the symbols carved on over 600
pottery ware items unearthed from the Neolithic site in Shuangdun
village, Xiaobengbu town of Bengbu, a city in East China's Anhui
The symbols include rivers, animals and plants, and activities
such as hunting, fishing and farming, as well as symbols recording
events, said Han Xuhang, a research fellow with the Anhui Provincial
Archaeological Research Institute. The pottery mainly includes bowls
and cups, with all the symbols carved on the bottom or on hidden
parts of the pottery.
"It is obvious that these symbols were not used to decorate the
pottery utensils but had a special meaning and purpose," said Xu
Dali, an associate research fellow with the Bengbu City Museum. Xu
said the symbols are carved in pairs and also in groups, which
express comparatively complete meanings and show the characteristics
of sentences and paragraphs. Similar symbols were also discovered in
other places nearby, which shows that these symbols were recognized
and used in a certain region, said Xu.
Many of the symbols are similar to the inscriptions on bones or
tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC) and many are
still conserved in characters used by ethnic groups today, said Xu.
"The discovery of so many symbols at Shuangdun ruins is very rare,"
said Li Xueqin, chairman of the China Pre-Qin Dynasty Historiography
The period from 9,000 years to 4,000 years ago was the origin
and initial development period of Chinese characters, and the period
from 4,000 years ago to 221 BCE was the time when characters
developed towards maturity, which was followed by a period of wide
use of characters after Qinshihuang, China's first emperor of the Qin
Dynasty (211-207 BCE).
Covering 12,000 sqm, the Shuangdun site were first discovered in
1985 and excavations were made on an area of 375 square meters from
1986 to 1992. The site was regarded as the earliest Neolithic site in
the area along the middle reaches of the Huaihe River. Discovery of
the Shuangdun site shows that the Huaihe River valley also has its
own independent cultural system and is one of the birthplaces of
Chinese civilization.

Source: China View (22 March 2006)

Ama Menec, Totnes, Devon, UK.