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|Tuesday, May 15, 2001, updated at 09:14(GMT+8)|
Analysis of Bone and Shell Inscriptions Pans outSince ancient inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells were discovered in 1899 , generations of archaeologists have devoted themselves to studying and interpreting them. Now 40 percent of the 3,000-year-old inscriptions can be translated into modern Chinese, according to the latest Beijing Review.
The Shang Dynasty (17th-11th century BC) inscriptions are known in Chinese as jiaguwen. To date , about 150,000 inscriptions have been discovered and most of them have been put on display after being catalogued. Liu Huan, a scholar studying jiaguwen, said about 5 ,000 jiaguwen characters have been discovered. Of these, scholars have decoded 2,000.
During the past 20 years, a group of young scholars, carrying on the work of their predecessors, rigorously studied ancient Chinese culture, ceremonies and mythology and then retranslated the jiaguwen. Based on their findings, the scholars questioned previously widely accepted translations and rectified them.
Liu Huan, editor for the annals of Heilongjiang Province , has completed two works about jiaguwen. He has explained more than 100 difficult jiaguwen characters and the books have become popular all over the world.
While the study of jiaguwen has made great progress , many high-quality reference books have appeared one by one. Among these publications, The Jiaguwen Dictionary includes the key findings of the past dozen years and corrects many errors in previous versions. This dictionary is honored as a milestone in the study of jiaguwen.
Jiaguwen recorded the history of the Shang Dynasty and the new results will be helpful in reconstructing the history of that period, Liu Huan said. The new findings will help scholars conduct research into the politics, economy , culture, military , customs and religion of the Shang Dynasty.
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