Earliest Chinese Writing?

People’s Daily Online is reporting that 7000 year old characters have been found which seem to be direct precedents to known Chinese characters. [via]

The symbols include rivers, animals and plants, and activities such as hunting, fishing and arable farming, as well as symbols recording events, said Han Xuhang, a research fellow with the Anhui Provincial Archaeological Research Institute.

…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.

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.

It’s not immediately clear to my how this is terribly important, since it’s been pretty obvious for a long time that Chinese characters evolve from pictographic origins. Still, it’s interesting.

In other news: The metal used to make Great Britain’s highest military honor, the Victoria Cross, came from China. Apparently the tradition is to use cannon captured in battle: since 1914, the metal used has been from Chinese armaments taken in the Second Opium War. These cannon were used for medals because they were not considered high quality material for recasting cannons, which is what was done with a great many other seized weapons.

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