Chinese city in Henan Province, near the site of the last capital of the Shang dynasty or Yin dynasty, occupied c.1300– c. 1050 bc. The site is sometimes called Yinxu, ‘Waste of Yin’, an ancient name for the abandoned city.
At least as early as the Northern Song period (960–1127) Anyang was known to antiquarians as a source of ancient bronze ritual vessels. At the beginning of the 20th century archaeologists were led there by the realization that animal bones and turtle shells found by local farmers were carved with inscriptions in a form of Chinese script more archaic than any previously known (for a discussion of the oracle-bone texts see China, People’s Republic of, §IV, 2, (i)). The bones had been used in divination rituals; their inscriptions, which showed the divinations to have been performed on behalf of the last nine Shang kings, secured the identification of the Anyang site. According to historical texts of the last few centuries ...