12 Jul 2013

Form of writing found on artefacts in China

6:01 am on 12 July 2013

Artefacts unearthed in eastern China over the last decade could push back the origins of China's written language by 1000 years. The markings date from some 5000 years ago, in the neolithic era.

But the BBC reports scholars are divided on whether the markings are proper writing or a less sophisticated stream of symbols.

The world's oldest writing is thought to be from Mesopotamia from 3300 BC.

The stone fragments are part of a large trove of artefacts discovered between 2003 - 2006 at a site just south of Shanghai.

If proven, they will be older than the earliest proven Chinese writing found on animal bones, which dates back 3300 years.

The main thing is that there are six symbols arranged together and three of them are the same," said lead archaeologist Xu Xinmin, referring to markings on one of the pieces.

"This clearly is a sentence expressing some kind of meaning."