UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

Anyang Shen, Chen


Anyang is a modern municipal in northern Henan province of China. In the late 19th century, an accidental discovery of inscribed oracle bones at Anyang led to the beginning of the archaeological excavations in 1929. Nearly-a-century archaeological discoveries and inscribed oracle bones confirm that Anyang was the location of the ancient ruin of Yin, dated to 14th - 11th century BCE. For more than 250 years, Anyang was a political and religious centre of Shang Kingdom (ca. 1600 - 1046 BCE), the earliest known state that controlled the lands of Yellow River and Yangtze River valleys. Divinations by processing turtle shells and ox bones and then application of incised texts onto shells and bones after divining had been a major state affair exclusive to royal houses and elites. Shang people worship the Di or God literally in English, as a supernatural being, thus the Heavily Above. The Di, or Heavily Above, could be represented by deceased kings, thus ancestral worships, as tradition of Chines ritual since prehistoric periods, was a core of Shane’s ritual endeavours. Shang ritual process for state affairs from wars to marriage, have produced oracle bones as documentation. Inscribed oracle bones, survived nearly 200,000 pieces, provide the first written history of religious activity in China. Archaeologically, Anyang is well known for its abundance of ritual bronze vessels, that can be viewed in major museums worldwide. The ritual bronze vessels were evident that Shang rituals were in wide various forms and objectives. Shang people worshiped gods or supernatural beings from mountains and rivers, as well as natural phenomena like rains, winds, thunders. Anyang yields a wider variety of archaeological evidences suggesting that it was a largest and populated city in East Asia at the time for over 250 years.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International