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Shang Dynasty

According to historical records, the Xia reigned for 471 years and was superseded by the Shang dynasty. The Shang mainly operated in what is now known as Henan, Hebei and Shandong provinces. Relics of the Shang dynasty, the Yin ruins, were discovered by archaeologists at Xiaotun Village in Henan Province. At the site they unearthed numerous tortoise shells and animal bones inscribed with jiaguawen, the precursor to modern Chinese characters. These bones, also called oracle bones, were used in divination ceremonies. Findings that represent the choosing of auspicious days for important events and the decision of when to begin harvesting, have been found. These bones have given much information about the daily lives of the Shang people.


A significant amount of bronzeware was also excavated, of which the best known is the rectangular simuwu ding. Named after the characters carved on it, it measures to be a total of 133cm high and weighs 875kg. The simuwu is an impressive piece & the technological skill required to cast such pieces shouldn't be understated. Much of the Shang bronzeware is inscribed with characters and decorations. The decorations are usually based on animalistic motifs; one that's particularly common is the taotie, a mythical feral animal.