Oracle Bone Script is one of the oldest known form of Chinese written language. According to recent archealogical research, it dates back as far as 4,800 years ago.

This is a sample of what the script looks like. The script was carved on tortoise shells and ox scapulas (shoulder blade) bones. Hence the name of "bone script" or . In English literature, it is commonly called "oracle bone script," because some of the objects are thought to be used as oracles, though the script language was not restricted to just oracle applications.

Click for another of bone script photo.

One of the best collections of Bone Scripts available on the web is from the Union Library of the Chinese Hongkong University. Some 45 pieces are given, some complete with transcriptions in Modern Chinese.


Over 100 years after the initial discovery of Oracle Bone Scripts, a new site has just been discovered in April 2003 in Shangtong Province. Initial determination places the new found oracle bone scripts to be at least 3,200 years old in the Shang Dynasty.

Read the News reports with photographs: [pdf] version | [unicode] version


Oracle Bones | Calligraphy Page