- Published date:
This project digitised and put online more than 480 Chinese 'oracle bones' and strengthened our links with institutional partners in China.
About the project
As part of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange, the Library received funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to develop and strengthen its links with Chinese institutions, and to deliver a project based on cooperation and mutual exchange.
The project focussed on the 3,000-year-old Chinese oracle bones. These are the oldest items in the British Library and they present challenges in handling, cataloguing, exhibition, conservation and digitisation.
From April 2015 to March 2016, we worked alongside our colleagues of the National Library of China in Beijing to better understand how to preserve these precious items for future generations and to make them permanently accessible worldwide using digital technologies.
The project was divided into a technical/conservation strand and a curatorial/research strand. It included the following activities:
- Initial conservation assessment
- Conservation study with the NLC partners
- 2D digitisation of the entire collection (images accessible in the Digitised Manuscripts page)
- 3D digitisation and 3D printing of 5 selected pieces (3D models by Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert)
- Micro-CT scanning of 4 pieces at the Imaging and Analysis Centre of the Natural History Museum
- Exhibition of selected items in the Library’s Treasures Gallery and related Events
- Blog posts publication about special themes related to the collection (forgeries, astronomy)
- Exchange visits to Beijing and to London for BL and NLC staff members
- Roundtable on oracle bones studies hosted at the Library, with Chinese and UK academic experts
This project enabled the Library to:
- offer permanent worldwide online access to its oracle bones collection
- create stronger and more diverse links with the National Library of China and several UK institutions
- share knowledge and experiences
- create the basis for developing future research and digitisation activities.