Chinese archaeologists studying ancient rock carvings
stated in 2007 that they
had evidence to show that modern Chinese script is thousands of years older
than had previously been thought.
State media claimed that researchers had identified more than
two thousand pictorial
symbols dating back eight thousand years (to about 6000 BC), on the Damaidi cliff faces in the north-west of
the country. Many of these symbols bore a strong resemblance to
later forms of ancient Chinese characters.
Scholars generally think thought Chinese symbols came into use about 4,500
years ago. This would have been during the era known as the 'Chinese
Legendary Period', although the more general use of characters in
writing would take longer to evolve.
The Damaidi carvings were first discovered in the 1980s.
They cover fifteen square metres (5.8 square miles) and feature more than
eight thousand individual figures
including the sun, moon, stars, gods, and scenes of hunting or
Some symbols which were shaped like both pictures and
characters were also found, according to Li Xiangshi, a cliff carving expert at the North
University of Nationalities in Ningxia Hui autonomous region. The pictographs
were said to be similar to the ancient hieroglyphs of
Chinese characters and many could be identified as ancient
Until the discovery, the earliest known characters
included old inscriptions dated to about 2500 BC on pottery from Henan