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Business cards found, 18 centuries old

ARCHAEOLOGISTS FOUND wooden business cards 18 centuries old, it was revealed this week. Searching in ruins and abandoned wells in Chenzhou, Hunan province, they located nearly 10,000 thin wooden strips.

These would have been ordinary throwaway documents at the time they were written—but today provide a priceless window into how people lived 1,800 years ago, during the time recorded in the famous novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of the most dramatic periods of Chinese history.

“Some slips are like today’s business cards,” said Chen Bin, a researcher with the Hunan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. “People wrote down their names, honorary titles, and native places on the wood to socialize.”

But the ancient business cards were not mass-produced, but rather written individually. “They often wrote their own names in an artistic way,” Chen said. “So these slips were not only for practical use, but also as a way to appreciate each other’s calligraphy.”

Others were government documents revealing details of business contracts, taxation, and other ordinary matters, archaeologists said at a media briefing.

Often the information about ordinary lives is more evocative than the official records which list the reigns of the rulers, Qi Dongfang, an archaeology professor at Peking University, told the China Daily.

He said that “in history books, we see grand pictures of national affairs and key events. Thanks to these slips, we can vividly understand history from the mundane details of people’s everyday life, which is more touching”.

Image at the top by fridayeveryday.

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