Sunday, June 20, 2010
Western Zhou Dynasty Tortoise Shell
A chronology from about.com:
The Bronze Age Shang Dynasty in China is roughly dated between 1700-1050 BC, and, according to the Shi Ji, it began when the first Shang emperor, T'ang, overthrew the last of the Xia (also called Erlitou) dynasty emperors. They in turn were overthrown by the first rulers of the Zhou Dynasty, in 1046 BC.
Shang Dynasty Chronology
•Erlitou (or Xia dynasty) 1850-1600 BC (Erlitou, Xinzhai)
•Early Shang (Erligang) 1600-1435 BC (Erligang, Zhengzhou, Yanshi, Xingyang Dashigu, Anyang)•Middle Shang 1435-1220 BC (Yanshi)
•Late Shang (Yinxu) 1220-1050 BC
Archaeological evidence for the Shang Dynasty suggests that the story is far more complex and that the use of the term 'Shang dynasty' or 'Shang civilization' is confusing, and 'Shang period' might be of more use. Settlement patterns of the Shang period include dispersed villages like Taixi, walled settlements like Gucheng and Zhengzhou, and ritual or ceremonial centers like Erlitou and Anyang.
Important advances of the Shang Dynasty are the creation of writing, on oracle bones, bones and turtle shells used to record dreams and public and private events and sacrifices. Ritual bronzes were first created at Erlitou, which may or may not represent the early part of the Shang Dynasty, depending on which scholar you listen to.
As you can see from this map of the area of the Western Zhou Dynasty, the area in China is basically the same. Information from paulnoll.com:
Western Zhou Dynasty Map - (1100 to 771 BC - 331 Years)
Article from National Geographic News:
Ancient Psychic Shell?
Published June 15, 2010
Photograph from Imagechina/AP
Not much is known about tortoise-shell divination during the Western Zhou period, Sena said, but during the preceding Shang dynasty, the process involved heating the shell and interpreting the cracks that formed.
"Holes are bored in the back of the shell to make it easier to crack during the divination process," Sena explained.
"Someone then 'reads' the cracks. We don't know how exactly—it may be the shape of the crack or the sound it makes when it's heated," he added.
"The diviner would ask a question and the crack provided an answer."