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The first recognizable form of Chinese writing dates from 3,500 years ago, but many argue that its origins lie much deeper in the past.Regardless of its actual age, Chinese has evolved substantially over time yet has retained its ancient core, making it one of the longest continuously used writing system in the world.

As you can imagine, signs having multiple meanings can lead to wrong interpretation of texts.

To alleviate this ambiguity, scribes started to attached additional symbols to these polyvalent signs to distinguish one use from another, in the process creating new, compound signs.

This script was etched onto turtle shells and animals bones, which were then heated until cracks would appear.

By interpretating the pattern of the cracks, Shang court officials would make divinations of future events, hence giving the name "oracle bones" to these animal bones.

The Earliest Chinese Writing Whatever the obscure initial phase of written Chinese was, its appearance during the Shang dynasty already exhibited sign of a very complex system.

The earliest form of Chinese writing is called the oracle bone script, used from 1500 to 1000 BCE.

Origin The common consensus is that writing in China evolved from earlier non-linguistic symbolic systems.

During the Late Neolithic period, at the latter half of the 3rd millenum BCE, many symbols or "pictograms" started to be incised on pottery and jades.

And at least in one instance an emblem, namely bird with a solar symbol, continues to be used as clan name in early Shang dynasty on bronze artifacts.

The prevalent thought is that at some point in time these symbols ceased to represent the objects they illustrate but instead came to represent the words of the objects.

Chinese is a highly monosyllabic language and so the opportunity of using rebus writing would have presented itself extremely frequently.