Archaeologists in north China have discovered characters on a pottery piece which they believe are 4,000-year-old, even older than the oracle bones scripts. The pottery piece, with ink marks which were confirmed to be three or four characters, was unearthed at Gaojiataizi, the ruins of the Lower Xiajiadian Culture in the city of Chifeng. The ruins, which are spread over 10,000 square metres, were jointly excavated by the regional research institute of cultural heritage and archaeology and the Jilin University. Experts from the National Museum of China confirmed the marks were characters left by animal-fur brush with ink, according to Lian Jilin of the regional research institute. The words, which were written smoothly, are believed to be connected with sacrificial activities, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Pottery scripts, together with those of oracle bones and bronze objects, have been known for long term preservation. "The oracle bones, scripts from some 3,000 years ago in the Shang Dynasty, may have originated from the pottery scripts," he said, adding the discovery has offered new evidence to trace the origin of oracle bones. Pottery and stone articles, as well as animal bones were also unearthed at the ruins. The Lower Xiajiadian Culture, a branch of the northern bronze culture during the Xia and Shang dynasties, dates back to 3,500-4,000 years ago -- between the late Neolithic Age and Bronze Age. The Lower Xiajiadian site in Chifeng was listed as one of the top archaeological discoveries in China in 2009.
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