Oldest Hieroglyphs Discovered in China’s Ningxia Region

The Second Northwest Institute for Ethnic Minorities (SNIEM) in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region recently disclosed to the outside world the most ancient picture writings in China. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The rock art research center of the Second Northwest Institute for Ethnic Minorities (SNIEM) in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region recently disclosed to the outside world that the most ancient hieroglyphs in China, discovered among the numerous independent cliff painting groups at Ningxia’s Damaidi, are thousands of years older than oracle-bone inscriptions. The discovery may change the history of Chinese characters.

According to a report of China’s Xinhua News Agency,  a surprising number of prehistoric cliff paintings were discovered at Damaidi, Beishan Mountain, Weining, Ningxia, which dates back to the late Paleolithic period (Old Stone Age), about 20,000 years ago.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

The hieroglyphs were found in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region in China.
The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in China. (Image: TUBS via wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0)

The surveys and studies by cliff painting experts at the SNIEM found that there are 8,453 individual cliff painting figures at Damaidi in 3,172 groups. The figures feature the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, and stars), holy spirit of Heaven and Earth, hunting and herding, dancing, and sacrificial rites.

These experts determined that the early cliff paintings were 16,000 to 10,000 years old. They have conducted an on-site investigation and in-depth studies on individual figures of the cliff paintings for nearly two years, and their findings have been appraised by Shanghai’s ancient Chinese characters expert, Liu Jingyun.

nx-zhangyi-village-in-southern-ningxia
A village in the remote Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The research revealed that the pictures and symbols discovered in Damaidi were Chinese ancient characters, and many of the hieroglyphs and abstract signs have acquired the key elements of ancient writings. Similar hieroglyphic characters can also be found in symbols and signs of the Pottery Writing (5000 to 1600 B.C.) discovered nearly at the same period of time, and oracle-bone inscriptions afterward. Moreover, certain compound characters comprised of two or more hieroglyphic signs have also acquired essential elements of hieroglyphic characters, logical aggregates, and self-explanatory characters.

What’s more interesting is that such hieroglyphic signs were not marked sporadically in Damaidi’s cliff paintings; instead, they formed a star-shaped distribution. Li Xiangshi, a researcher from the rock art research center of the SNIEM, pointed out that among the 1,500-plus signs of pictures and writings found at Damaidi, only a small quantity of them have been successfully deciphered, yet most remain unknown.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Recommended Stories

Victoria Harbour Hong Kong.

3 Reasons Hong Kong Is Important to China: Money, Money, Money

With Hong Kong protests turning increasingly violent, Chinese media have been calling for stricter actions ...

The book 'Love Your Body.'

Book Review: ‘Love Your Body’ by Jessica Sanders

People have always been conscious of their bodies, spending countless hours worrying whether they were ...

The Khmer temples of Koh Ker.

Ground Radar Reveals Why Ancient Cambodian Capital Was Moved to Angkor

The largest water management feature in Khmer history was built in the 10th century as ...

The ancient city of Angkor Thom.

New Research Casts Doubt on Cause of Angkor’s Collapse

New University of Sydney research has revealed that the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor underwent ...

A young Hmong woman in traditioanl dress.

What Do You Know About the Hmong Community and Their Upcoming New Year?

The Hmong people are a community native to East and Southeast Asia. They hold a ...

Sayragul Sauytbay.

The Story of How a Kazakh Woman Survived China’s Re-education Camps

When talking about the persecution of Muslim minorities in China, the Uyghur community largely takes ...

Piles of dyed material.

How-to: Dyeing Your Clothes the Natural Way

There is a growing trend of people opting to dye their clothes using natural, plant-based ...

Hong Kong police accused of sexual violence.

Hong Kong Police Accused of Sexual Violence

On November 2, the Hong Kong democratic party held several election rallies with less than ...

The Huangtengxia Glass Corridor.

A Glass Corridor in China Featuring a Manmade Waterfall

In the Qingcheng District of Guangdong Province, the Chinese have created a unique structure that ...

Send this to a friend