William Boltz is quoted as follows regarding the Jiahu, China
tortoise shells (see the previous e-mail on the LexiLine List):
"'There is a span of more than 5000 years ... . How can the
development of Chinese writing have taken so long?,' William Boltz,
professor of Classical Chinese at the University of Washington,
Seattle, told Discovery News."
"Speculation based on graphic similarity alone, over
such a great period of time, is next to meaningless. How does anyone
know that the one graph is in fact the graph for 'eye'? It may look
like an eye to someone, and it may have some general approximate
graphic similarity to the graph that stood for the word for 'eye' in
the Shang language, but it might just as well be a graph that stands
for something else, perhaps a heap of grain under a protective
"Without a context, including a knowledge of the language involved,
it is impossible to say anything about such marks as writing."
[end of quoted material]
I agree with Boltz. You need a context. I am glad to now be able to
provide that context. It is clearly astronomy, and I have been able
to decipher the Jiahu tortoise shells for the greatest part,
although some of the parts of the shells are not clearly visible in
the photographs available and some parts not at all. Nevertheless, I
can say with certainty that these shells contain carved figures and
also mark specific stars quite clearly, especially Perseus and the
My decipherment has been uploaded to our LexiLine files in the China folder
To my great astonishment, the astronomy confirms the archaeologists'
dating to ca. 6200 BC.
There are basically five top tortoise shells pictured in the photo
and 5 bottom shells.
The top shells show stars above those stars shown on the bottom
shells. The stars can be seen as darker points on the shells and
there are also clearly carved figures on the shells.
Going clockwise from the top right we have:
Top and Bottom Shells 1. Boötes and/or Virgo as a phallic symbol at
the top shell, and Centaurus as a whale or similar fish at the
bottom shell. This is significant since Spica in Virgo has always
traditionally started the Chinese lunar mansions (moon stations).
Perhaps this IS the origin at the Summer Solstice ca. 6200 BC when
according to Starry Night Pro Virgo marked the Summer Solstice,
which would fit the archaeologists calculated date exactly.
Top and Bottom Shells 2. Ursa Major as a bird - top. The bottom flat
shell shows Lynx, Cancer and Canis Minor. Figures of cat and dog are
clear. Cancer marks the Vernal Equinox ca. 6200 BC.
Top and Bottom Shells 3. Auriga (or Gemini) top, Taurus and Orion.
This is unclear. The top is a mask-type of face - clear - and Auriga
has this shape. Too little of the bottom is shown to be sure. This
shell does not mark any of the cardinal points. Why is it included?
Top and Bottom Shells 4. Perseus, the Pleiades and Cassiopeia are
clearly apparent and this is where I began the decipherment. This is
the bottom shell of this duo.
The top shell - Winter Solstice - shows Cepheus with a serpent's
head above it, the serpent of precession. Now for the VERY
speculative part. I think Cepheus is shown as an armadillo - so I
looked it up, because armadillos are not found in China. This is
correct. But then I found out that the 3-banded armadillo can roll
itself COMPLETELY into a ball - just as the rolled sky in the center
of heaven in the circle of precession. It was a perfect model for
the middle of the heavenly sphere. Look at the picture at
I knew nothing about this prior to deciphering these shells.
Coincidence? I do not think so - I think it is an armadillo, but
these are known only to the New World, so there must have been some
knowledge of this in ancient days - or I am in error. Is there a
similar animal in China?
Top and Bottom Shells 5. The top shell by its dark spots clearly
marks Sagittarius (the teapot shape in heaven). This marks the
Autumn Equinox in 6200 BC and the center of the Galaxy. Below this
shell, the flat shell is not visible for decipherment - it could be
Along with the shells one also found pebbles which the
archaeologists have suspected to be inserted in the tortoise shells
and then shaken to make noise. A rather quaint idea.
I counted the pebbles - looks like 46 - and found also that there
appeared to be dark pebbles (16), perhaps representing a Saros-type
cycle, and light pebbles (28), perhaps representing the Lunar
Mansions (Moon Stations), but there is no way to prove this without
more materials of some kind. Numerology alone is not sufficient.