Chinese characters are the last of the ancient (Egyptian and Sumerian being the others) character forms to stay in use until present day.
Based on pictographs, Chinese characters combine shapes and connotations to form unique, block-shaped characters that carry meaning. Archaeological researchers discovered many such signs carved on earthenware excavated from Banpo Village in Xi'an City and Jiangzhai Village in Lintong. The etchings were carved during the Yangshao Culture Period some 6,000 years ago.
Several examples of early characters and their modern successors follow below:
Some of the most sophisticated and intricate early characters are represented on tortoise shells and animal bones that date from the Shang Dynasty (17th-11th century BC). These characters closely resemble the item they describe.
The history of Chinese characters is long and rich. While the modern Chinese character list top 60,000, only about 3,000 are commonly used – making learning to read Chinese an attainable goal.