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David Keightley argued that the "Against Luxurious Ease" chapter should not be treated as a historical text, because was composed much later, presents reign lengths as moral judgements, and gives other reign lengths that are contradicted by oracle bone evidence.
Neolithic diviners in China had long been heating the bones of deer, sheep, pigs and cattle for similar purposes; evidence for this in Liaoning has been found dating to the late fourth millennium BCE.
Diviners would submit questions to deities regarding future weather, crop planting, the fortunes of members of the royal family, military endeavors, and other similar topics.
These questions were carved onto the bone or shell in oracle bone script using a sharp tool.
The Jiǎgǔwén héjí (甲骨文合集) edited by Hu Houxuan, with its supplement edited by Peng Bangjiong, is the most comprehensive catalogue of oracle bone fragments.
Scapulimancy is the correct term if ox scapulae were used for the divination; plastromancy if turtle plastrons were used.Official archaeological excavations in 1928–1937 led by Li Ji, the father of Chinese archaeology, proved beyond a doubt for the first time the existence of the Shang dynasty, which had recently been doubted, and the location of its last capital, Yin.Today, Xiǎotún at Anyang is thus also known as the Ruins of Yin, or Yinxu.The earliest oracle bones (corresponding to the reigns of Wu Ding and Zu Geng) record dates using only the 60-day cycle of stems and branches, though sometimes the month was also given.
Attempts to determine an absolute chronology focus on a number of lunar eclipses recorded in inscriptions by the Bīn group, who worked during the reign of Wu Ding, possibly extending into the reign of Zu Geng.A separate work contains transcriptions of the inscriptions into standard characters.A few oracle bones date to the beginning of the subsequent Zhou dynasty.Intense heat was then applied with a metal rod until the bone or shell cracked due to thermal expansion.