University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
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Object Number: 49-14-7A
Current Location: China Gallery
Currently On Display
Provenience: Anyang
Period: Shang Dynasty
Date Made: Shang Dynasty
Early Date: 1700
Late Date: 1100
Height: 2.3cm
Width: 2.5cm
Credit Line:Bequest of Julia Morgan through brother Hugh Morgan, 1949


Oracle bone fragment. Shang Dynasty kings used oracle bones as a form of divination to seek supernatural guidance about important political, social, and personal issues. Usually created from cattle shoulder blades and the underside of turtle shells, the bones were smoothed and then heated until they cracked. By interpreting the cracks, royal diviners believed they were recieving insight that allowed them to answer questions about the future. In many cases, a record of the reading was written on the bones. These texts provide invaluable information about early chinese religion, politics, and elite life.


[Article] Mair, Victor A. 2001. The Case of the Wayward Oracle Bone. Expedition: The Magazine of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. 43 (2) : Page/Fig./Plate: Fig. 3, mislabled as 49-14-17cView Objects cited in this Publication

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