The IHP has provided an ideal environment for the conservation of its oracle bone collections, and has made an extremely active effort in the digitization of oracle bone images. One has only to go online for access to use and peruse these resources. In this way, the IHP continually promotes research and the broadening of education, and has allowed the oracle bones to exert a wider function within academic research and social education. It is our hope that with the aid of national and social support and through nomination to the Memory of the World Register, broader sectors of society will become more aware of the oracle bone inscriptions, and will use them more extensively.

The results of a scientific excavation must be thoroughly researched before their value is evinced. After the oracle bone inscriptions were excavated, IHP scholars became active in the organization and research of the oracle bones. Important photos and materials related to the oracle bone collections were published, along with a variety of research works about the bones. Because oracle bones are 3,000 year old ancient relics, they are extremely brittle and fragile. Furthermore, oracle bones collected by the IHP were often transported between various locations within war-ridden early 20th century China, and this led to even more severe cracking and fragmentation than would normally be expected. In the past decades, scholars have made vigorous efforts to reconstruct fragmented oracle bone pieces.


Archaeological Database Oracle Bone Rubbings Database

Serial Number:Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Jia Edition) 3940
Title :Deer Skull with Inscriptions
Excavation Site :Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements :Length: 22.7 centimeters; Width: 20.2 centimeters
Introduction :An inscribed deer skull from the reign period of Yin kings Yi and Xin. The skull records that after the Yin King attacked Fang, he went hunting at Hao(), and sacrificed the animals he caught to King Wen Wu Ding (also known as Tai Ding, 太丁).

Serial Number : Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Yi Edition) 8688
Title : Ox Ankle Bone with Inscriptions
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements : Length: 7.3 centimeters; Width: 5.7 centimeters; Depth: 4.5 centimeters
Introduction : This bone was excavated during the 13th excavation of the Yin ruins in 1936. It is a chronicle inscription from the fifth period of the Yin Ruins cultural era. The style of the characters in the inscription resembles that of styles seen on bronzewares.

Serial Number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Jia Edition) 3939
Title: Ox Skull Inscription
Excavation Site : Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Explanation : This ox skull inscription was discovered during the 3rd excavation of the Yin Ruins in 1929. It is a chronicle inscription from the fifth period of the Yin Ruins cultural era, and it records the capture of a ba si (a wild animal similar to an ox) and the attack of Yu Fang (an enemy country of Yin). The characters on the skull were carved with a knife in a back and forth motion, and present similarities to the shuanggou calligraphy style. The style of the characters resembles that found in bronzeware inscriptions.

Serial Number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Jia Edition) 2422
Title: Animal Bone Fragment with Divination Inscription
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements: Length: 19.5 centimeters; Width: 8.6 centimeters
Explanation: This is a fragment of an ox bone with animal pictographs carved on the front. A large, pregnant elephant is carved on the right side. Under the elephant, there appears a small deer, which emphasizes the immense size of the elephant. A tiger is carved in a still lower portion of the bone. Oracle bone characters are carved on the front and back of the ox bone.

Serial number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Bing Edition) 067
Title: Abdomen Portion of Tortoise Shell with Divination Inscriptions
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements: Length: 22.5 centimeters; Width: 19.1 centimeters
Explanation: The divination question asks: “Will god set down a disaster upon us?” This is an extremely serious question; it is repeated eighteen times. The name of the diviner is “Bin.”

Serial number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Yi Edition) 0867
Title: Abdomen Portion of Tortoise Shell with Bright Red Divination Inscriptions
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements: Length: 20.3 centimeters; Width: 11.7 centimeters
Explanation: This is a divination inscription from the first period of the Wu Ding reign during the late Shang dynasty. It is a negative-positive bu ci (divination) asking if there will be a good harvest. The diviner is named “Wei.” Usually bu ci are carved to the side of the bu zhao (signs) to avoid carving on top of the bu zhao; this is called “bi zhao.” However, in this example, the bu ci are carved on top of the bu zhao, this is called “fan zhao.”

Serial Number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Bing Edition) 069
Title: Abdomen Portion of Tortoise Shell with Divination Inscriptions
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements: Length: 18.4 centimeters; Width: 11.1 centimeters
Explanation: This inscription is a negative-positive divination. The divination question was posed on the Xin You day and it asks if 化 can defeat the country of 方. The diviner’s name is “Bin.”

Serial Number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Yi Edition) 0778
Title: Tortoise Shell Fragment with Divination Inscription
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements: Length: 7.3 centimeters; Width: 5.1 centimeters
Explanation: This is an example of Shang dynasty brush writing. A divination concerning rain is written on the oracle bone, asking if there will not be rain in two days (on the Bing day).

Serial Number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Bing Edition) 207
Title: Abdomen Portion of Tortoise Shell with Divination Inscriptions
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang country, Henan province
Measurements: Length: 17.5 centimeters; Width: 13.4 centimeters
Explanation: This is an example of bu ci (divinations) carved using a multiple knife-cut technique. Carving an inscription multiple times causes oracle bone inscriptions to appear more similar to brush writing than inscriptions made by a single carving would. The content of this oracle bone includes divinations pertaining to sacrifice and prayers for rain.

Serial Number: Chinese Characters from the Yin Ruins (Bing Edition) 001
Title: Abdomen Portion of Tortoise Shell including Added Color and Divination Inscriptions
Excavation Site: Xiaotun, Anyang county, Henan province
Measurements: Length: 28.6 centimeters; Width: 20.5 centimeters
Explanation: This shell and inscription belongs to the middle to late period of the Wu Ding reign. The content mainly pertains to a military expedition. The larger characters are carved using a multiple knife-cut technique, and color has been added in the middle of the inscribed strokes. Bright red coloring has been added to the large characters and brown coloring has been added to the smaller characters.