Yinxu literally "Yin Ruins" is the ruins of Yin, the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty. The capital served 255 years for 12 kings in 8 generations.Rediscovered in 1899, it is one of the oldest and largest archeological sites in China and is one of the historical capitals of China and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is located in the very north of Henan province, close to the borders with Hebei and Shanxi, in the modern city of Anyang, and is open to the public.It is famous as the original source of oracle bones and oracle bone script, the earliest recorded form of Chinese writing.
Archaeological Discoveries :
Yinxu is famous for its oracle bones, which were first discovered in 1899 by Wang Yirong, director of the Imperial College.Director Wang was suffering from malaria at the time and was prescribed Longgu 龍骨 (dragon bones) at a traditional Chinese pharmacy. He noticed strange carvings on these bones and concluded that these could be samples of China’s earliest writing. He sent his assistant in search of the source of these bones and they were finally traced to the small village of Xiaotun just outside of Anyang.In 1917, Wang Guowei deciphered the oracle bone inscriptions of the names of the Shang kings and constructed a complete Shang genealogy. This closely matched that in the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian confirming the historical authenticity of the legendary Shang dynasty and the archaeological importance of Yinxu.
Excavation Sites :
At 30 km² this is the largest archaeological site in China and excavations have uncovered over 80 rammed-earth foundation sites including palaces, shrines, tombs and workshops. From these remains archaeologists have been able to confirm that this was the spiritual and cultural center of the Yin Dynasty.
The best preserved of the Shang Dynasty royal tombs unearthed at Yinxu is the Tomb of Fu Hao. The extraordinary Lady Hao was a military leader and the wife of Shang King Wu Ding. The tomb was discovered in 1976 and has been dated to BCE 1250. It was completely undisturbed, having escaped the looting that had damaged the other tombs on the site, and in addition to the remains of the Queen the tomb was discovered to contain 6 dog skeletons, 16 human slave skeletons, and numerous grave goods of huge archaeological value. The tomb was thoroughly excavated and extensively restored and is now open to the public.