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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Exploring the Mysteries of World Heritage Sites: Chinese Oracle Bones

Evening Program (Session 2 of 4-Session Course)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0063B
$25 - Gen. Admission

Clockwise: The ocher horse, Altamira cave, Spain; Oracle bone, Anyang, Henan Province, China; Moais at Easter Island, Ahu Tongariki, Rapa nui; Panoramic view of the city of Macchu Pichu in Peru

Save $40 when you purchase all 4 sessions of this World Heritage Sites course!


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.


There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Each of them offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of complex civilizations, empires, and religions. Some, however, are more mysterious than others. Historian Justin M. Jacobs offers an in-depth overview of four of the most intriguing—and sometimes misunderstood—UNESCO World Heritage sites, including both well-known and lesser-known locations. Each richly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience by incorporating the insights of the latest scholarship and research.

Jacobs is an associate professor of history at American University and the author of several books, including The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures. He is currently producing a 24-episode series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites for The Great Courses.


Chinese Oracle Bones

The oracle bones found in the “ruins of Yin” (Yinxu) represent the earliest surviving records of the Chinese script and have yielded unique insights into customs during  the reign of the kings of the once-legendary Shang dynasty. Jacobs recounts the fascinating history of the accidental discovery of what was once thought to be “dragon bones” at the turn of the 20th century and provides a new picture of Chinese civilization at the dawn of history—one filled with human sacrifice, communion with the supernatural world, and powerful women on the battlefield.


If you are interested in additional World Heritage Sites sessions this fall, view the upcoming schedule:


  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.