Knowledge of the Oracle-Bone scripts provides the key to understanding the ancient world of China circa 1300 BC. This ancient script, which is comparable to the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek circa 1450-1200 BC, has a textual corpus that increases day by day through excavations at various sites, covering at present some 4,000 graphs comprising about 1.2 million words, greater than the combined transmitted traditional classical Chinese texts. It is much larger than the Linear B and the Rosetta Stone inscriptions, and is therefore even more valuable and richer in terms of the variety of topics covered.
Professor Anne Yue proposed a project to create an elementary textbook for a new course on ancient Chinese civilization through the window of oracle-bone inscriptions to the University of Washington’s East Asia National Resource Center. The center approved her project with a $20,000 grant for the 2014-2018 budget cycle. Professor Takashima (emeritus, University of British Columbia; adjunct professor, University of Washington) will be the master supervisor for the compilation of this textbook. He will be assisted by Dr. Lin Deng, lecturer at Arizona State University and a Ph.D. graduate of AL&L, who specializes in the oracle-bone inscriptions. Professors William Boltz, Zev Handel (AL&L), and Haicheng Wang (UW School of Art) will serve as advisers.
The legacy of Oracle-Bone research in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature initiated by Father Paul L-M. Serruys, C.I.C.M., who taught with us from 1965-1981, has a unique, innovative methodology of combining paleography with philology and linguistics. It cannot be found anywhere else in the world except at the University of British Columbia, where Professor Takashima, Father Serruys’ only prominent student, taught it until his retirement in 2004. The compilation of this textbook will permit new generations of students to discover and, perhaps, even add to this valuable body of knowledge.