Introduction_The Contents of Oracle Bone Inscriptions

A complete oracle bone or shell inscription usually includes the following sequence of information:

How to read oracle bonde inscriptions

  1. Preface: Includes the time of divination and the name of the person executing the divination.
  2. Charge: The question asked at the divination.
  3. Prognostication: The prediction of the Shang king on the basis of the divined omen.
  4. Verification: What actually came true.

Of these, the prognostication and verification were often omitted, leaving only the preface and charge.