Jiahu symbols
Jiahu symbols refer to the 16 distinct markings on prehistoric
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 artifacts found in Jiahu
Jiahu was the site of a Neolithic Yellow River settlement based in the central plains of ancient China, modern Wuyang, Henan Province. Archaeologists consider the site to be one of the earliest examples of the Peiligang culture. Settled from 7000 to 5800 BC, the site was later flooded and abandoned...

, a neolithic Peiligang culture
Peiligang culture
The Peiligang culture is a name given by archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities in the Yi-Luo river basin in Henan Province, China. The culture existed from 7000 BC to 5000 BC. Over 70 sites have been identified with the Peiligang culture. The culture is named after the site discovered...

 site found in Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, and excavated in 1999 C.E. The Jiahu site dates to 6600 BC; some archaeologists believe the markings to be similar (although without necessarily having the same meaning) to some characters used in a much later writing system related to the oracle bone script
Oracle bone script
Oracle bone script refers to incised ancient Chinese characters found on oracle bones, which are animal bones or turtle shells used in divination in Bronze Age China...

 (e.g. similar markings of “eye”, “sun; day”), but there is currently no consensus. A 2003 report in Archaeology
Archaeology (magazine)
Archaeology is a bimonthly mainstream magazine about archaeology, published by the Archaeological Institute of America. Its focus is both for archaeologists and non-specialists alike. The magazine was launched in 1948, and is published six times a year....

 interpreted them "not as writing itself, but as features of a lengthy period of sign-use which led eventually to a fully-fledged system of writing." The earliest evidence for a corpus of writing in the oracle bone script dates much later to the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

(c. 1600 – 1046 BC).

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