Oracle Bone with Translation

This "oracle bone" dates from the reign of King Wu Ding in the Shang Dynasty. It is approximately three thousand years old. Such oracle bones were used by ancient Chinese rulers for divination. The bones were heated until they cracked, and then the cracks were interpreted. The questions asked of the bones (and sometimes also the prognostications and the actual outcomes) were then carved into the bones. The inscriptions on these bones are the earliest known examples of Chinese "characters."

Following is a partial translation of the left-hand side of this oracle bone.

[Preface:] Crack making on gui-si day, Que divined:
[Charge:] In the next ten days there will be no disaster.
[Prognostication:] The king, reading the cracks, said, "There will be no harm; there will perhaps be the coming of alarming news."
[Verification:] When it came to the fifth day, ding-you, there really was the the coming of alarming news from the west. Zhi Guo, reporting, said, "The Du Fang [a border people] are besieging in our eastern borders and have harmed two settlements." The Gong-fang also raided the fields of our western borders.

This translation follows (with slight modifications) David N. Keightley, Sources of Shang History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), p. 44. The oracle bone being cited is Ching-hua 2.

Here is where I got the oracle-bone image.