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Journeys in Time 2010-09-11 Legends from the Central Plains (1)- Mysterious luscriptious from antiquity Part 1

09-11-2010 17:46 BJT

Today we begin a four-part series, in which we’re investigating some of the legendary people, places and events associated with China’s Central Plains.
The Central Plains region covers modern-day Henan, the southern part of Hebei, the southern part of Shanxi, and the western part of Shandong province. Because of the area’s political and strategic importance, several imperial dynasties established their captials there, in the cities of Luoyang and Kaifeng. Since the beginning of recorded history, the Central Plains has been at the heart of Chinese civilization. In the first two episodes of our series, we’ll focus on the remarkable oracle bone inscriptions. The earliest form of written Chinese characters, they date from the Bronze Age, over 3000 years ago.

If the carved marks on the bones really were Chinese characters from the distant past, the question was: How old were they? Wang Yirong had no answer. So, he decided to collect as many of the dragon bones as he could and make inquiries into where they had been purchased. But to his disappointment, no one could tell him.
Liu E was the first person to conduct a serious study of the inscriptions. Like Wang Yirong, he realized that they were a form of Chinese script dating from remote antiquity. But neither man could identify where they came from. It was left to Luo Zhenyu to make antiquities dealer Fan Weiqing reveal the secret source of the bones.

The discovery of the ‘jia gu wen’ inscriptions on turtle shells and animal bones in 1899 created a sensation in academic circles. During many years of study, scholars such as Wang Yirong, Liu E and Luo Zhenyu were able to answer some questions about them, but many more remained to be solved. 

In our next programme, we’ll hear about the breakthroughs made in deciphering the mysterious characters on the turtle shells and animal bones.

Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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