The Jiahu symbols (simplified Chinese: 贾湖契刻符号; traditional Chinese: 賈湖契刻符號; pinyin: Jiǎhú qìkè fúhào) consist of 16 distinct markings on prehistoric artifacts found in Jiahu, a neolithic Peiligang culture site found in Henan, China, and excavated in 1989. The Jiahu symbols are dated to around 6000 BC. The archaeologists who made the original finds believed the markings to be similar in form to some characters used in the much later oracle bone script (e.g. similar markings of 目 "eye", 日 "sun; day"), but most doubt that the markings represent systematic writing. A 2003 report in Antiquity 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 known body of writing in the oracle bone script dates much later to the reign of the late Shang dynasty King Wu Ding, which started in about c. 1250 BC or 1200 BC.
- Underhill, Anne P. (2013). A Companion to Chinese Archaeology. John Wiley & Sons. p. 248. ISBN 978-1-118-32578-0.
- Rincon, Paul (17 April 2003). "'Earliest writing' found in China". BBC News.
- Li, X; Harbottle, Garman; Zhang Juzhong; Wang Changsui (2003). "The earliest writing? Sign use in the seventh millennium BC at Jiahu, Henan Province, China". Antiquity. 77 (295): 31–44. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00061329.
- Boltz, William G. (2003) . The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System. American Oriental Series. 78. New Haven, Connecticut, USA: American Oriental Society. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-940490-18-5.
- Keightley, David N. (1985). Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China. University of California Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-520-05455-4. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
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