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The Asian side of the world - II

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Jean-François Sabouret

Part Three. Constructing theories

Chinese writing from its origins to the 3rd century CE

Olivier Venture

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October 2012

The earliest evidence of Chinese writing goes back to the 13th century BCE, which makes it the oldest form of writing in East Asia.

Unlike the early development of writing in Egypt and Mesopotamia during the fourth millennium BCE, Chinese writing from its earliest discovery was already a fully developed system that reflected the different elements of the language. Certain specialists consider the possibility of a less developed, earlier stage, but no evidence of this has been discovered. Other scholars consider that the lack of standardization of the writing indicates that the system must have been invented at that time or slightly earlier. In any case, it is without doubt the ancestor of modern Chinese writing. Although the writing appears to be more archaic, the principles of character forming are generally the same.

It was during the last period of the Shang dynasty (1250-1050 BCE) that the first inscriptions in Chinese appeared on various objects. These objects were li...

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