Nebra Sky Disc
- October 19, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Nebra Sky Disc
Subject – Science and Tech
Context – Nebra Sky Disc: The oldest map of stars that will be displayed at British Museum
- The British Museum in London will display an ancient object called the Nebra Sky Disc, which is thought to be the world’s oldest concrete depiction of stars.
- The object is being loaned to the museum by Germany’s State Museum of Prehistory in Halle that owns it and will be showcased as part of an exhibition on Stonehenge, which will open in February 2022.
What is the Nebra Sky Disc?
- About 3,600 years ago, the disc was ritually buried along with two swords, axes, two spiral arm-rings and one bronze chisel near Nebra in Germany. The burial of these objects is thought to be made as a dedication to gods.
- In the past few years, however, the date of origin of the disc has been called into question by some archaeologists.
- For instance, in a paper published last year in the German journal ArchäologischeInformationen, archaeologists claimed that the disc is at least 1,000 years younger than thought, which means it is from the Iron Age and not the Bronze Age.
- The State Museum for Prehistory in Germany subsequently disputed these findings saying that it was out of question for the disc to be from the Iron Age.
- Even so, while the exact purpose of the disc cannot be determined, hypotheses about its existence have imagined it as an astronomical clock, a work of art and a religious symbol.
- The disc has a value of about $11 million and is thought by some to be one part of a pair, with the other part still out there, waiting to be discovered.
- The Archaeology magazine, which is published by the Archaeological Institute of America notes that when the disc was buried it had already been in use for over 200 years.
- Further, while the raw materials to make the disc were imported from as far as Cornwall in England, the knowledge required to create the object was “entirely local” and was drawn from observing the heavens from atop the Mittelbergmountain, which is near the modern village of Nebra.
How and when was the Nebra Sky Disc discovered?
- The bronze disc was discovered a little more than two decades ago.
- In 1999, the discovery was made by treasure hunters using a metal detector in Nebra, a town in Germany. This excavation was illegal and it was about four years later that the disc was recovered from a black market raid in Switzerland.
- The object, which has a diameter of about 30 cm was found along with some other bronze-age weapons.
- It is thought to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century and has been associated with the Unetice culture that inhabited parts of Europe around 1600 BC.
- The Unetice culture comprised early Bronze Age communities in central Europe including in Bohemia, Bavaria, southeastern Germany and western Poland.
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology notes that one of the distinguishing features of this culture was its use of tin-bronze metallurgy.
- Some of the metal artefacts made during this time by communities in the Unetice culture include ogival and triangular daggers with metal hilts, flanged axes, halberds, spiral arm-rings, solid bronze bracelets and varieties of pins.