"I have long been yearning for visiting here," said President Xi Jinping during his inspection of the Yinxu ruins in Anyang, Central China's Henan Province on October 28.
Yinxu is the archeological site where oracle bones and their inscriptions were discovered, resulting in the identification of the earliest known Chinese writing.
In 1899 a sick scholar was prescribed "dragon bones" by a traditional Chinese pharmacist.
The scholar noticed strange carvings on the bones and concluded they could be an ancient form of writing.
The "dragon bones" were eventually traced to a village in Anyang. The first official archeological excavations started at Yinxu in 1928 and since then the digging and research has never stopped.
More than 5,000 oracle bone characters have been found. The characters have been deciphered over generations of research by scholars. Many remain unsolved.
In October 2016 the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang offered a 100,000 yuan (about US$14,000) reward for the successful decipherment of one oracle bone character, which drew attention both at home and abroad. This fully reflected the importance China attaches to the study of oracle bones as well as Chinese history and culture.
About 150,000 oracle bones have been unearthed. They document the lives and ideas of ancient Chinese people including their politics, economy, culture, astronomy and meteorology.
Egyptian hieroglyphics and Mesopotamian cuneiform were abandoned, but oracle bone inscriptions remain relevant to Chinese writing, life and culture to this day.
In 2019 President Xi sent a congratulatory letter on the 120th anniversary of the discovery and research of oracle bone inscriptions. The discovery of the oracle bone inscriptions from Yinxu was of epoch-making significance in Chinese civilization and even human civilization, he said.
In a speech to a symposium on philosophy and social sciences in 2016, Xi stressed the importance of researching ancient writing and called for attention to disciplines of cultural value and heritage.
(Translated by Zhan Zinan and edited by Sun Tianren)