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Since ancient times, the past in China has been linked with the present. It is a guide from which information can be obtained, a tool that has a hold over space and time, providing models which can be imitated and from which lessons can be drawn. It is also a major source of inspiration. Writing, an instrument of memory, is one of the main contributions of Chinese civilization. Long before the modern period, the love of antiquities was combined with a taste for texts. From a very early age, ancient objects discovered by chance or hoarded were passed around and preserved. In these early times, texts also related the discoveries of archaic inscribed bronzes, and mentioned or described ancient monuments.  
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