Excavation of the Yin Ruins

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Inscribed oracle shells unearthed at Yin Ruins.

On October 13, 1928, the Institute of History and Philology of the Academia Sinica sent archaeologist Dong Zuobin to start digging the Yin Ruins at Xiaotun village of Anyang in Henan Province for the first time. It was also the first time that a Chinese academic institution independently conducted archaeological excavations.

At the end of the 19th century, large amounts of inscribed oracle bones and shells were unearthed at Anyang, where local people crushed them into powder and used them as medicine. Word expert Wang Yirong recognized the characters as being ancient Chinese writing during the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC – c. 1100 BC), which aroused immediate attention from scholars at home and abroad. Unfortunately, a large quantity of oracle bones and shells were taken overseas.