Thread Tools
Old April 18, 2003, 22:01   #1
Oerdin
Deity
 
Oerdin's Avatar
 
Local Time: 16:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: In a bamboo forest hiding from Dale.
Posts: 17,436
Earliest writing discovered in China
From the BBC This article seemed topical considering the recent looting of the Baghdad museum.
Quote:
Signs carved into 8,600-year-old tortoise shells found in China may be the earliest written words, say archaeologists.

The symbols were written down in the late Stone Age, or Neolithic Age.

They predate the earliest recorded writings from Mesopotamia - in what is now Iraq - by more than 2,000 years.

The archaeologists say they bear similarities to written characters used thousands of years later during the Shang dynasty, which lasted from 1700-1100 BC.

But the discovery has already generated controversy, with one leading researcher in the field branding it "an anomaly".

The archaeologists have identified 11 separate symbols inscribed on the tortoise shells.

The shells were found buried with human remains in 24 Neolithic graves unearthed at Jiahu in Henan province, western China.

The site has been radiocarbon dated to between 6,600 and 6,200 BC.

The research was carried out by Dr Garman Harbottle, of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and a team of archaeologists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Anhui province.

"What [the markings] appear to show are meaningful signs that have a correspondence with ancient Chinese writing," said Dr Harbottle.

The Neolithic markings include symbols that resemble the characters for "eye" and "window" and the numerals eight and 20 in the Shang script.

"If you pick up a bottle with a skull and crossbones on it, you know instantly that it's poison without the word being spelt out. We're used to signs that convey concepts and I wouldn't be surprised if that's what we're seeing here," Dr Harbottle added.

However, Professor David Keightley of the University of California, Berkeley, urged caution, particularly over the proposed link to the much later Shang script.

"There is a gap of about 5,000 years [between them]. It seems astonishing that they would be connected," said Professor Keightley.

He added that the link had to be proved more thoroughly.

But Dr Harbottle points to the persistence of sign use at different sites along the Yellow River throughout the Neolithic and up to the Shang period, when a complex writing system appears.

He emphasised that he was not suggesting the Neolithic symbols had the same meanings as Shang characters they resembled.

Professor Keightley added: "It's a puzzle and an anomaly; [the symbols] are remarkably early. We can't call it writing until we have more evidence."

Shaman rituals

He noted that there were signs the Neolithic culture at Jiahu may not have been complex enough to require a writing system.

But Professor Keightley did say that the signs appeared to be highly "schematised" or stylised. This is a feature of Chinese written characters.

Aggregations of small pebbles were found close to several of the tortoise shells.

The Jiahu researchers propose that the shells once contained the pebbles and were used as musical rattles in shamanistic rituals.

In one grave, eight sets of tortoise shells were placed above the skeletal remains of a man whose head was missing.

The shells come from graves where, in 1999, the researchers unearthed ancient bone flutes.

These flutes are the earliest musical instruments known to date.

The research is published in the journal Antiquity.
__________________
Christianity is the belief in a cosmic Jewish zombie who can give us eternal life if we symbolically eat his flesh and blood and telepathically tell him that we accept him as our lord and master so he can remove an evil force present in all humanity because a woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from an apple tree.
Oerdin is offline  
Old April 18, 2003, 22:06   #2
Spiffor
Civilization III Democracy GamePtWDG LegolandApolytoners Hall of Fame
 
Spiffor's Avatar
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: jihadding against Danish Feta
Posts: 6,182
Very interesting. ANd very good news
__________________
"I have been reading up on the universe and have come to the conclusion that the universe is a good thing." -- Dissident
"I never had the need to have a boner." -- Dissident
"I have never cut off my penis when I was upset over a girl." -- Dis
Spiffor is offline  
Old April 18, 2003, 22:13   #3
Oerdin
Deity
 
Oerdin's Avatar
 
Local Time: 16:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: In a bamboo forest hiding from Dale.
Posts: 17,436
At least we're gaining a few new incites from our history and not just losing relics.
__________________
Christianity is the belief in a cosmic Jewish zombie who can give us eternal life if we symbolically eat his flesh and blood and telepathically tell him that we accept him as our lord and master so he can remove an evil force present in all humanity because a woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from an apple tree.
Oerdin is offline  
Old April 18, 2003, 22:18   #4
Spiffor
Civilization III Democracy GamePtWDG LegolandApolytoners Hall of Fame
 
Spiffor's Avatar
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: jihadding against Danish Feta
Posts: 6,182
Yep That sure givves some hopes for the future. There are still many historical mysteries to uncover.
__________________
"I have been reading up on the universe and have come to the conclusion that the universe is a good thing." -- Dissident
"I never had the need to have a boner." -- Dissident
"I have never cut off my penis when I was upset over a girl." -- Dis
Spiffor is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 00:18   #5
Urban Ranger
NationStatesApolyton Storywriters' GuildNever Ending Stories
Deity
 
Urban Ranger's Avatar
 
Local Time: 07:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: May 1999
Location: The City State of Noosphere, CPA special envoy
Posts: 14,606
Good stuff.
__________________
(\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
(='.'=) "Claims demand evidence; extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." -- Carl Sagan
(")_(") "Starting the fire from within."
Urban Ranger is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 02:57   #6
Berzerker
Civilization II MultiplayerApolytoners Hall of Fame
Emperor
 
Berzerker's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: May 1999
Location: topeka, kansas,USA
Posts: 8,164
A book written shortly after 1900 showed links between Sumerian and Chinese picture writing. Can't remember the name of it though...
Berzerker is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 05:16   #7
Lancer
Civilization III MultiplayerApolytoners Hall of FamePolyCast TeamC4BtSDG Rabbits of Caerbannog
Deity
 
Lancer's Avatar
 
Local Time: 23:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Oregon Coast, USA! or Bohol, Philippines!
Posts: 16,064
Well, there ya go.
__________________
I'm not profane, I type the stars.
Lancer is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 05:43   #8
Chemical Ollie
King
 
Chemical Ollie's Avatar
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Hooked on a feeling
Posts: 1,780
Apparantly, Emperor Chin missed some tortoise shells when he burned all books so that history would begin with him.
__________________
So get your Naomi Klein books and move it or I'll seriously bash your faces in - Supercitizen to stupid students
Lord know, I've made some judgement errors as a mod here. The fact that most of you are still allowed to post here is proof of that. - Rah
Chemical Ollie is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 06:34   #9
DRoseDARs
lifer
Spore
Emperor
 
DRoseDARs's Avatar
 
Local Time: 16:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Reno, Nevada
Posts: 3,554
If this turns out to be true, good for the Chinese
__________________
The cake is NOT a lie. It's so delicious and moist.

The Weighted Companion Cube is cheating on you, that slut.
DRoseDARs is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 07:05   #10
Traianvs
BtS Tri-League
King
 
Traianvs's Avatar
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Belgium, land of plenty (corruption)
Posts: 2,647
Well until it's been proven that it is writing and not ritual symbols or something (because: perhaps we see these tablets as writing, but the neolithic man then may not have used it for writing as we do now!!!) a remark:

If this is writing, then why did they need it? the Earliest known writing in Mesopotamia (but also in Kreta, and every other place) was used for administration, to count how many pots were produced this month or similar things, so it suggests a fairly advanced community that cooperates...

If this Chinese writing is also used for administration, the neolithic man at that time must have been quite organized, and it might explain their society a lot different than we see it now! So our views on those people might change quite drastically...

But of course that's up to the archaeologists to find out. Plus, if this was writing similar to the Shang writing, what caused it to vanish all that time, and then pop up again after 5000 years? That's a long time for a writing to be out of use, and I reckon there would be nobody old enough to remember that writing after so many years . Interesting stuff!
__________________
"An archaeologist is the best husband a women can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her." - Agatha Christie
"Non mortem timemus, sed cogitationem mortis." - Seneca
Traianvs is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 13:03   #11
Urban Ranger
NationStatesApolyton Storywriters' GuildNever Ending Stories
Deity
 
Urban Ranger's Avatar
 
Local Time: 07:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: May 1999
Location: The City State of Noosphere, CPA special envoy
Posts: 14,606
Quote:
Originally posted by Trajanus
Well until it's been proven that it is writing and not ritual symbols or something
If these symbols have meanings, would that be considered as writing? More generally, what is the accepted definition of writing?
__________________
(\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
(='.'=) "Claims demand evidence; extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." -- Carl Sagan
(")_(") "Starting the fire from within."
Urban Ranger is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 13:05   #12
Solly
Emperor
 
Solly's Avatar
 
Local Time: 00:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 8,515
That seems like drawing to me.
Solly is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 13:09   #13
Boris Godunov
Civilization II MultiplayerApolytoners Hall of FameCivilization IV: Multiplayer
Emperor
 
Boris Godunov's Avatar
 
Local Time: 16:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 4,412
Lies. We all know the world was made 6,000 years ago!
__________________
Tutto nel mondo č burla
Boris Godunov is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 15:51   #14
Traianvs
BtS Tri-League
King
 
Traianvs's Avatar
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Belgium, land of plenty (corruption)
Posts: 2,647
I don't know the definition of writing, but.... Writing is a means of communication, you want to give information to another person and instead of memorizing everything and telling the information orally, you do it the easy way, by writing it down


For example, the prehistoric drawings in caves aren't writing, or shaman symbols aren't writing either, sure they have a meaning, but only to represent an idea or a belief (like a cross on a wall might indicate that this is a holy place or something), but not to actually give precise information on how many pots you sold last month ). Simple!

When several symbols are used in a sequence, and they can be used in other sequences, you can say it is writing, if the symbols always appear inthe same order or in the samecontext, I don't think it is writing.

We don't write with crosses, circles or smileys, because they can't give information on what we are specifically saying!
__________________
"An archaeologist is the best husband a women can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her." - Agatha Christie
"Non mortem timemus, sed cogitationem mortis." - Seneca
Traianvs is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 16:29   #15
ranskaldan
Prince
 
ranskaldan's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 300
Quote:
Originally posted by Urban Ranger


If these symbols have meanings, would that be considered as writing? More generally, what is the accepted definition of writing?
Direct representation of spoken language - basically, a system that is as open-ended as speech and equally able to directly transcribe granary accounts, epic poetry, or technical writing. Basically the definition is - if you can write anything you speak and if there's a close correspondence between what you speak and what you write, then what you have is writing.

Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese oracle-bone carvings are considered to be writing. Incan knotted strings and Picasso paintings are not.
__________________
Poor silly humans. A temporarily stable pattern of matter and energy stumbles upon self-cognizance for a moment, and suddenly it thinks the whole universe was created for its benefit. -- mbelleroff
ranskaldan is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 21:37   #16
Urban Ranger
NationStatesApolyton Storywriters' GuildNever Ending Stories
Deity
 
Urban Ranger's Avatar
 
Local Time: 07:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: May 1999
Location: The City State of Noosphere, CPA special envoy
Posts: 14,606
Okay, that's for a mature system though. If a system has just started, it would have only a few symbols.
__________________
(\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
(='.'=) "Claims demand evidence; extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." -- Carl Sagan
(")_(") "Starting the fire from within."
Urban Ranger is offline  
Old April 19, 2003, 22:14   #17
JCG
Prince
 
JCG's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: between a rock and a hard place
Posts: 998
Quote:
Originally posted by ranskaldan Incan knotted strings
Funny, I've heard from a few people that have studied them that the complexity achieved by those strings actually does constitute an organized form of direct representation & communication of numbers/quantities/etc.. But nevermind.

Good to know that new discoveries are still being made.
__________________
DULCE BELLUM INEXPERTIS
JCG is offline  
Old April 20, 2003, 00:33   #18
ranskaldan
Prince
 
ranskaldan's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 300
Quote:
Originally posted by JCG


Funny, I've heard from a few people that have studied them that the complexity achieved by those strings actually does constitute an organized form of direct representation & communication of numbers/quantities/etc.. But nevermind.

Good to know that new discoveries are still being made.
Well, the genius of the Incan knotting system is quite amazing - considering that it kept together a pre-literate empire spanning an enormous mountainous area. But then, by definition, it's an accounting system, not a writing system, in that it doesn't record the Quechua language (at least not fully, afaik.)

Quote:
Originally posted by Urban Ranger
Okay, that's for a mature system though. If a system has just started, it would have only a few symbols.
Well, the systems being used by the Sumerians, Egyptians, Shang and Harappans were certainly at that level of maturity to qualify as "writing".
__________________
Poor silly humans. A temporarily stable pattern of matter and energy stumbles upon self-cognizance for a moment, and suddenly it thinks the whole universe was created for its benefit. -- mbelleroff
ranskaldan is offline  
Old April 20, 2003, 00:39   #19
Seeker
Emperor
 
Seeker's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Dec 1969
Location: Yongsan-Gu, Seoul
Posts: 3,647
Personally, I think that if a culture stores stuff in ceramics then they have a need for writing, if only to keep track of what all you have, especially if it is a large village.

And the chinese have had ceramics, villages, and agriculture for a long, long time before the Shang in 1100 BC. This doesn't surprise me very much, in my opinion there has always been a strange 'gap' at the beginning of chinese history when the other river valley civs were around for longer (Sumer, Mohenjo Daro).

A really interesting case of writing or pictures is Catal Huyuk in Anatolia. About 6 000 BC the town was devasted by an earthquake, and this seems to be depicted in a sort of wall mural.
Seeker is offline  
Old April 20, 2003, 06:23   #20
Ramo
Apolytoners Hall of Fame
Emperor
 
Ramo's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: of Fear and Oil
Posts: 5,892
Very intriguing.
__________________
"Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way. "
-Bokonon
Ramo is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 08:51   #21
Ecthy
Civilization II MultiplayerApolytoners Hall of FameSpanish Civers
Emperor
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 8,491
bumping oldest not archived thread

these news are amazing

I mean,

Last edited by Ecthy; September 16, 2003 at 09:03.
Ecthy is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 08:54   #22
Q Classic
Emperor
 
Q Classic's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: The cities of Orly and Nowai
Posts: 4,228
further proof that only asians really have culture.
__________________
B♭3
Q Classic is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:03   #23
Solly
Emperor
 
Solly's Avatar
 
Local Time: 00:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 8,515
Yeah Eccy..
Solly is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:10   #24
Brundlefly
Prince
 
Brundlefly's Avatar
 
Local Time: 19:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Picksburgh
Posts: 837
That's not all that the Chinese may have discovered first.

There was a story a while back that wreckage of Chinese ships predating Columbus had been found on West Coast of U.S.

So instead of America celebrating Columbus Day, maybe we should be celebrating....General Tso's Day?
Brundlefly is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:15   #25
FrustratedPoet
PtWDG Gathering Storm
Emperor
 
FrustratedPoet's Avatar
 
Local Time: 23:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: All Glory To The Hypnotoad!
Posts: 4,223
Oldest known thread discovered by silly Eastie, Scientists confounded.
__________________
If I'm posting here then Counterglow must be down.
FrustratedPoet is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:15   #26
Ecthy
Civilization II MultiplayerApolytoners Hall of FameSpanish Civers
Emperor
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 8,491
maybe they had space travel first
Ecthy is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:16   #27
Ecthy
Civilization II MultiplayerApolytoners Hall of FameSpanish Civers
Emperor
 
Local Time: 01:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 8,491
FP, what a scientific wonder

have you got more sources for that novelty?
Ecthy is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:22   #28
Q Classic
Emperor
 
Q Classic's Avatar
 
Local Time: 18:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: The cities of Orly and Nowai
Posts: 4,228
Quote:
So instead of America celebrating Columbus Day, maybe we should be celebrating....General Tso's Day?
i'd rather be eating his chicken.
__________________
B♭3
Q Classic is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:36   #29
Drake Tungsten
Deity
 
Drake Tungsten's Avatar
 
Local Time: 19:55
Local Date: November 1, 2010
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: In the closet...
Posts: 10,604
Quote:
further proof that only asians really have culture.
No, this is just further proof that only the Chinese have culture. Other Asians just conveniently "borrowed" it.

As for the symbols, it's pretty much impossible to determine whether they're writing or not. Due to the nature of Chinese characters, it's hard to know whether these are characters used in writing or just the ideographic symbols that the characters later developed from. Still very interesting, though.
__________________
KH FOR OWNER!
ASHER FOR CEO!!
GUYNEMER FOR OT MOD!!!
Drake Tungsten is offline  
Old September 16, 2003, 09:37   #30
Skanky Burns
Alpha Centauri Democracy GameACDG The Cybernetic ConsciousnessC4DG Team Alpha CentauriansApolytoners Hall of FameACDG3 Spartans
 
Skanky Burns's Avatar
 
Local Time: 10:55
Local Date: November 2, 2010
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Skanky Father
Posts: 16,530
Thought this thread was familiar.
__________________
I'm building a wagon! On some other part of the internets, obviously (but not that other site).
Skanky Burns is offline  
 

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 19:55.


Design by Vjacheslav Trushkin, color scheme by ColorizeIt!.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2010, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Apolyton Civilization Site | Copyright Š The Apolyton Team