Chinese archaeologists studying ancient rock carvings say they
have evidence that modern Chinese script is thousands of years older
than previously thought.
State media say researchers identified more than 2,000 pictorial
symbols dating back 8,000 years, on cliff faces in the north-west of
They say many of these symbols bear a strong resemblance to
later forms of ancient Chinese characters.
Scholars had thought Chinese symbols came into use about 4,500
The Damaidi carvings, first discovered in the 1980s, cover 15 sq
km (5.8 square miles) and feature more than 8,000 individual figures
including the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or
"We have found some symbols shaped like both pictures and
characters," Li Xiangshi, a cliff carving expert at the North
University of Nationalities in Ningxia Hui autonomous region, said.
"The pictographs are similar to the ancient hieroglyphs of
Chinese characters and many can be identified as ancient
Until the discovery, the earliest characters included
4,500-year-old inscriptions on pottery from Henan province in