Ancient Chinese writing consisted of two characters i.e. the traditional Chinese character and the simplified Chinese character. These characters were used to represent the spoken Chinese.

They contained the rules regarding their arrangement and the way they should be punctuated. In ancient Chinese characters, alphabets or a compact syllabary were absent. The ancient Chinese character was also known as the Han character.


The earliest specimen of ancient Chinese character is as old as the Shang period (1200 BC). They are also known as Oracle bones inscriptions. They were found near the present-day Anyang, Henan province, the last Shang capital.

These Oracle bones inscriptions were discovered in 1899. According to these inscriptions, the writing in ancient China by 1200 BC was a highly developed writing system.

The ancient Chinese characters often consisted of parts that represented some physical objects, abstract notions or pronunciation. Written Chinese is considered to be the oldest language which is actively used now also. It is the only system which is continuously used.
Many of the present Chinese characters have been adapted from the ancient Chinese characters of the Shang period. However, the Chinese characters were standardized only in Qin Dynasty. Over the years, the Chinese characters have evolved into well-developed styles of Chinese calligraphy.

Some of these ancient Chinese characters have also been adopted as the part of the writing system of East Asian languages such as Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean. The ancient Chinese characters are known as sinographs and the Ancient Chinese Writing as sonography.

The foreign pronunciation of Chinese characters is known as Sinoxenic pronunciation which has been very useful in the reconstruction of the ancient Chinese pronunciation. Most of the ancient Chinese characters required two or more characters to write one word, having distinct meaning but depended on the characters they were made from.