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Engraved tortoise shells found in Shaanxi

By Jiang Feng Source: People's Daily Published:2011-12-15

An archaeological team made up of archaeologists from the School of Archaeology and Museology under Peking University and Shaanxi Archaeological Research Institute has unearthed more than 10,000 tortoise shells at the Zhougong Temple site in Shaanxi province.

These tortoise shells date back to the Western Zhou dynasty and were engraved with nearly 2,600 recognizable characters. A tortoise shell unearthed in late November presents a scene of two people practicing divination simultaneously for the first time.

Lei Xingshan, head of the archaeological team and a professor from Peking University’s School of Archaeology and Museology, said that since the beginning of excavations on the Zhougong Temple site in 2004, they have pieced together the tribal structures during the Shang and Zhou dynasties.

Lei said the unearthed tortoise shells record information about dream interpretation, ancestor worship, troop movements and other matters.

Tortoise shells found in one pit were once used by the Duke of Zhou, also known as Zhou Gong.

“Previously, archaeologists found no more than 1,100 characters engraved on Xizhou tortoise shells. The large amounts of tortoise shells found at the Zhougong Temple site are enough to bring about a qualitative change in the inscriptions study of the Xizhou tortoise shells,” Lei said.