Yin Xu

Yin Xu
Photo by Els Slots.

Yin Xu comprises an archaeological site that represents the golden age of early Chinese culture, crafts and sciences.

Yin was the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty (1766 BCE - 1050 BCE). It is renowned for the discovery of 'oracle bones', inscriptions on animal bones and tortoise shells which are considered the beginnings of Chinese characters and writing. The tombs also have revealed rich bronze ritual vessels, ceramics and chariots in addition to remains of victims of sacrifice.

Community Perspective: “This is an amazing site for those studying the Chinese language”. Els has written a comprehensive review of the various site components that can be visited.

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Philippines - 12-Jul-10 -

Yin Xu by Boj

From Beijing, it takes 6 hours by train to Anyang - the northernmost city of Henan Province. The trip can be cut short into 3 hours if one takes the fast train or dongche.

To get to Yin Xu from the railway station, one can take bus 28 to Jian Hang (Construction Bank of China) and switch to bus 18 to Yin Xu Park (Yin Xu Bowuyuan).

This is an amazing site for those studying Chinese language - particularly Chinese characters. I have always been fascinated by how they have evolved and seeing the oracle bones museum in the Ancestral Shrines area was such an unforgettable experience for me.

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 17-Oct-07 -

Yin Xu by Els Slots

The Yin Ruins are spread out over two separate locations: the Royal Palace area and the Royal Cemetery. Arriving at the gate of the Royal Palace area, I hadn't the faintest idea what to expect about this site. But when I saw the gate I immediately felt that this would be a visit to remember. That gate itself is already striking and prepares you for the shapes that you'll see over and over. Behind the gate lies a park with several exhibitions and a museum.

Starting at the museum is a good idea because it tells the story of the people of Yin. That they did practice animal and human sacrifice on a large scale becomes clear immediately. There are many fine bronze objects on display and of course the bones with writing (oracle bones). At first sight, they look just like normal bones, you have to look up really close to see the inscriptions. Amazing! The general feel of the site is brand new and bright, with a lot of attention put into its layout and detailing. There are explanation boards everywhere in English.

One of the highlights in the Royal Palace area is the 'Oracle bones inscriptions stele gallery'. Here, translations from writings on oracle bones into Modern Chinese and English are displayed. What did they write about? Sacrificing, tribute-paying, military actions and astronomy were popular themes. Remarks on good weather and therefore good harvests are also common.

Around the corner, the characters of the oracle bones script are compared to those in Modern Chinese. Also very well done. You can see the evolution of the script and the striking similarities. The words in the oracle bones script (pictorial) are fun to decipher: 'elephant', 'fish' and 'silk worm' are easy to guess.

The visit to the main site ends at Fu Hao's Tomb. Fu Hao was a member of the Royal Family of the Shang Dynasty and China's first woman general. Many bronze, jade and bone objects were found in her grave, which has been restored.

A golf cart-like wagon covers a distance of 5.5 kilometers to the second location, that of the Royal Cemetery. The trip is included in the 61 Y entrance fee. It's a nice ride through Anyang's suburbs and into Henan's farmlands. It is here that the large Simuwu vessel was found, the largest bronze vessel unearthed at Yin Xu. The Royal Cemetery has a number of restored tombs with displays. The items that are shown are mostly replicas, the originals can be found in the central museum or in various museums around the world.

Yin Xu turned out to be the quietest site that I've visited so far in China. I even was the only visitor at the Royal Cemetery!

Site Info

Full Name
Yin Xu
Unesco ID
2 3 4 6
Archaeological site - Far Eastern

Site History

2006 Inscribed


The site has 2 locations

Yin Xu: Palace and Royal Ancestral Shrines Area China
Yin Xu: Royal Tombs Area China