Archaeology Magazine

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5,000-Year-Old “Primitive Writing” Discovered in China

Thursday, July 11, 2013

SHANGHAI, CHINA—Scholars have met to discuss the inscriptions discovered on two broken stone-ax pieces at a Neolithic site in eastern China. The inscriptions, including six word-like shapes in a line, are 5,000 years old, or about 1,400 years older than the oldest-known written Chinese language, found on oracle bones. “They are different from the symbols we have seen in the past on artifacts. The shapes and the fact that they are in a sentence-like pattern indicate they are expressions of some meaning,” said lead archaeologist Xu Xinmin. For now, the researchers have agreed to label the markings “primitive writing.”