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Ancient China in Pictures

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Writing in Ancient China
Oracle Bone

Oracle Bone

CC Denn on Flickr.com

The Chinese trace their writing to oracle bones from at least the Shang Dynasty. Christopher I. Beckwith, in Empires of the Silk Road, says it is likely that the Chinese heard about writing from the Steppe people who introduced them to the war chariot. Although the Chinese may have learned about writing in this way, it doesn't mean they copied writing. They are still counted as one of the groups to develop writing on its own. The writing form was pictographic. In time, the stylized pictures came to stand for syllables. The ancient Chinese also invented paper. The oldest paper map, the Guixian Map, dates to the 4th century B.C. Supposedly, it was some centuries later, during the Han Dynasty, that court eunuch Ts'ai Lun (c. A.D. 104), who lived in the Eastern Han Dynasty, invented a paper-making process.

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