Chinese archaeological workers have unearthed over 200 pieces of oracle bones from four newly discovered pits in Anyang City of central China's Henan Province, the Beijing Morning Post reported Monday.
Oracle bones, or inscribed animal bones and tortoise shells, were used for divination by kings of the Shang Dynasty (16th Century BC-11th Century BC).
The four newly discovered pits are situated within the ruins of Yin Xu, the site of the capital of the Shang Dynasty and are close to Xiaotunnandi Oracle Bones Pit, where 5,000 pieces of oracle bones were excavated in 1973, said the newspaper.
Workers found traces of oracle bones during routine archaeological work and have so far sorted out only five layers of the bones.
One hundred pieces bear inscriptions, and some inscriptions also carried vermilion, said the newspaper.
Experts say the oracle bones unearthed are from Wuding rein of Shang Dynasty and the research on the newly found oracle bones may throw light on the culture of the Shang Dynasty.
Excavations at the newly found pits are continuing.
To date, Chinese archaeologists have found more than 160,000 pieces of inscribed bones and 10,000 characters, only about 1,000 of which have been deciphered.
Oracle bone inscriptions, which are like the cuneiform writing of the ancient Near East and hieroglyphic writing of ancient Egypt, were discovered more than 100 years ago.
Such inscriptions are one of the oldest forms of writing in the world. Their descendants, the "Han Zi" (Chinese characters), are still in use by about a quarter of the world's population.
(Xinhua News Agency July 29, 2002)