Like other ancient peoples, the Chinese developed unique attributes. Their form ofwriting, developed by 2000 BC, was a complex system of picture writing using formscalled ideograms, pictograms, and phonograms. Such early forms of Chinese becameknown through the discovery by archaeologists of oracle bones, which were boneswith writings inscribed on them. They were used for fortune-telling and recordkeeping in ancient China. In 1899 a small group of Chinese scholars andantiquarians collected quantities of inscribed bones from the fields around HsiaoT'un. Five years passed before enough symbols could be deciphered to reveal thetrue nature of the "dragon bones."They were a record of a people who called themselves Shang, and ruled landssurrounding Anyang some four thousand years ago. The objects embedded in thefields of Hsiao T'un came not from dragons but from tortoises and cattle. Shangkings desired to glimpse into the future, and their diviners inscribed the royalinquiries on a carefully scraped and polished tortoise shell or ox blade or legbone.Years later the People's Republic of China archaeologists uncovered thousands moreShang oracle bones. Corps of learned people created a whole new branch oflinguistic study, Jia gu shu, the study of shell and bone writing. As scholarspored over the writings of ancient diviners, they reached a provocativeconclusion: Shang writing was not the oldest Chinese writing, not by a thousandyears at least. The characters used then were already so sophisticated that theyundoubtedly had many centuries of development behind them. Very little is knownpre-Shang writing. The Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC) is the first documented era ofancient China. The highly developed hierarchy consisted of a king, nobles,commoners, and slaves. The capital city was Anyang, in north Henan Province. Somescholars have suggested that travelers from Mesopotamia and from Southeast Asiabrought agricultural methods to China, which stimulated the growth of ancientChinese civilization. If so, there may be a direct connection with Sumer. TheShang peoples were known for their use of jade, bronze, horse-drawn chariots,ancestor worship, and highly organized armies. A significant aspect of China isits long cultural and national history. The Chinese people have shared a commonculture longer than any other group on Earth. The Chinese writing system datesback almost 4,000 years.Ancient libraries.The earliest known libraries were connected with palaces and temples. In China,records of the Shang dynasty were written on animal bones and tortoise shells. Anearly library called "The Healing Place of the Soul"; in the palace of Egypt'sKing Ramses II (1304?-1237 BC) at Thebes, consisted of thousands of papyrusscrolls. Among the most important libraries in the ancient Near East was thepalace library of Ashurbanipal (668?-627? BC) at Nineveh in Assyria. This earlytype of national library, collected "for the sake of distant days" consisted ofover 30,000 clay tablets. Early librarians were usually priests, teachers, orscholars. The first known Chinese librarian was the philosopher Lao Tse, who wasappointed keeper of the royal historical records for the Chou rulers about 550 BC.There is a definite connection between Lao Tse and the Yellow Emperor.Many cultures identify a sacred being as the creator of writing. In Egypt, thehonor was shared by Thoth and Isis, while the ancient Greeks thanked Hermes fortheir writing words.The Yellow Emperor was a highly gifted "Son of Heaven". Legend goes that he wasthe inventor of many things such as making clothes, manufacturing boats andvehicles, building houses and palaces, etc. He also had his court officials LunLing make musical instruments, Da Nao compile the Heavenly Stems and the EarthlyBranches (The 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches are used in combination todesignate years, months, days and hours), and Ts'ang Chieh invent the Chinesecharacters. Thus, the Chinese tradition attributes the invention of writing toTs'ang Chieh, a minister of the heroic "Yellow Emperor," Huang-ti.