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Oracle Bones
甲骨文jiǎ gǔ wén

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the above photo of the inscription on a turtle shell
was taken at the Xian Chinese Calligraphy Museum

Literally translated 甲骨文 jiǎ gǔ wén means turtle bone scripts. As the name suggests, these are turtle shells and animal bones inscribed with characters. To date, 4 to 5 thousand characters have been discovered but only about 1500 have been deciphered.

The word "oracle" in the translation conveys that the inscriptions were derived from messages were divine and were from the gods. Thus,
甲骨文 jiǎ gǔ wén has also been called "Dragon Bones".

Oracle bones inscriptions were used during the Shang Dynasty (1766 BCE to 1045 BCE) making the scripts the earliest Chinese characters known and, to some, the origin of Chinese . Translation of some of the script revealed that the political and economic situation of the Shang Dynasty.)

*Note: The inscriptions are normally done on turtle plastrons (underbelly) and ox scapulae (shoulder blade).
 
The photo below show examples of oracle bone inscriptions 甲骨文字jiǎ gǔ wén zì.
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the above photo was taken at
the Xian Chinese Calligraphy Museum

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