Introduction to Yinxu (殷墟)
Yinxu is the site of the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty and is listed as one of the Historical capitals of China as well as one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in China. It is situated near the Anyang city and it will take you just about two hours from here to Zhengzhou city.
The capital served 12 kings in eight generations for 255 years. Yinxu, the ruins of the Shang Dynasty, was discovered in 1899 and is one of the oldest and largest archeological sites in China and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Excavations at the Yinxu Ruins have revealed tombs, foundations of palaces temples, jade carvings, lacquer, white carved ceramics, and high-fired, green-glazed ware. One of the major discoveries of Yinxu is the inscribed animal bones and tortoise shells, which were used for divination by Shang kings carrying the earliest known examples of Chinese characters.
The site includes a main palace and ancestral tomb area within a temple precinct, measuring some 100x90 meters. In addition, there are many large-foundation buildings at Yinxu, at least 53 of which have been excavated to date. Important discoveries at Yinxu include big hoards of oracle bones. Over 6,000 carved bones and turtle carapaces have been recovered to date, recording everything from dream interpretations to events such as harvests, the birth of a child, the weather, and the success of military campaigns.
The scale of Yinxu was tremendous. A five-sided construction, the city ran from Beixinzhuang in the west to Houying in the north, to Sanjiazhuang in the northeast, to Guojiawan in the east, and finally, to Liujiazhuang in the south. Yinxu covered an area of 24,000 square kilometers and was about 5 kilometers wide and 6 kilometers long. The programming of Yinxu was such that it irradiated out along one Huai River side, with the Ancestral Temple at Xiaotun Palace which is a name later given to the palace ruins at its center.
What to See
Remains of a Royal Palace
The remains of a royal palace, royal tombs, and an immense quantity – more than a hundred thousand – of oracle bones which would reveal the "written language" of these ancient Chinese forebears, were unearthed.
Oracle Bone Pit - the Earliest Library and Archives
The Oracle Bone Pit, also called the YH127 Oracle Bones Cellar, was discovered in June 1936, during the 13th excavation of Yinxu. The shape of this cellar is a regular shape with 10,000 oracles bones, which is of rich significance both in history and study.
Yinxu Museum - the Silhouette of the Shang Dynasty
Yinxu Museum is the only professional and systematic underground museum in China, with nearly 600 relics and heritages of great historic and appreciated value finds relating to the Shang Dynasty continuing to be found in the region.
This museum is divided into 5 parts, including the Dayong Shang Exhibition Hall, Bronze Vessels Exhibition Hall, Jade Exhibition Hall, Inscriptions on Oracles Exhibition Hall and the Special Exhibition Hall. Travelers can walk along the historical corridor, which starts from the Revolution of 1911.
Fuhao's Tomb - the Earliest Female General's Tomb
Located in the south-west of Yinxu, Fuhao's Tomb was the only intact tomb discovered in 1976. The owner and dynasty of the tomb are certain according to the inscriptions of the oracle bones. About 1,928 relics were buried with Fuhao, which were exquisite and sophisticated in ancient China.
Fuhao, the wife of the king of the Shang Dynasty, Wuding, was the first female general who could not only administrate the country, but also win battles in history.