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Oracle bone

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Replica of an oracle turtle shell
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Replica of an oracle turtle shell
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Replica of an oracle bone

Oracle bones were first fully excavated from the Anyang site in Henan Province China in 1899.

They are mostly ox scapula and turtle shells or plastrons, used for scapulomancy: after being heated, they would crack, and the priest in charge of the ceremony would read the cracks to learn the answer to a question written on the bone. Their use as a method of divination in China seems to date back to the middle of the Shang Dynasty, probably in the reign of Pangeng, around 1350 BC when the Shang capital was moved to Yin. The site at Anyang is believed to be the site of this ancient capital.

Oracle bones found in the 1970s have been dated to the Zhou period, with some dating to the Spring and Autumn period of the later Zhou Dynasty.

They were also called dragon bones on account of their discovered use by Chinese scholar Wang I Jung when they were found sold in Chinese medicinal centres either whole or crushed for the healing of various ailments that Jung hoped to use to cure his then-mysterious malaria, which western doctors could not diagnose.

See also: Oracle script, Herbology

de:Orakelknochen no:Orakelben ja:甲骨文字 sv:Orakelben zh:甲骨文

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