I would like to introduce to you a very interesting mystery, even for those who have not yet discovered it. This mystery begins ever since its discovery, on a hill in Germany in 1999, a Celtic bronze and gold artifact dubbed the “Nebra disc” was found. It has baffled both archaeologists and historians alike as to its deepest celestial secrets. What is it for? How could they know so much about the stars at that time?
Despite numerous debates, this Bronze Age relic still has historians arguing over the emotional inspiration and reason why it became a piece that appears to have been worn by someone. Was it worn in some sort of ritual or ceremony is the question. The general consensus is that it is representative of important stars, although opinions differ vastly as to which stars are purportedly shown, except for a cluster of ‘dots’ that all seem to be in agreement with.
The cluster conclusively represents the Pleiades. Here is a close up image taken just after it was restored and gold polished. Just think of it, can you see the Pleiades if you look up in the sky? I can’t..
The disk, two bronze swords, two hatchets, a chisel, and fragments of spiral bracelets were discovered in 1999 by Henry Westphal and Mario Renner while they were treasure-hunting with a metal detector.
Archaeological artifacts are the property of the state in Saxony-Anhalt. The hunters were operating without a license and knew their activity constituted looting and was illegal. When grave robbers ransacked the Bronze Age burial in Germany, they had no idea that they had unearthed the find of a lifetime.
The disc they found combines an advanced understanding of the stars with some of the most sophisticated religious imagery of the age. One thing is without a question very odd with this disc. How could the ancient have such knowledge about our galaxy? It`s an intellectual achievement and also old age, because it surpasses anything yet found in Egypt or Greece. It seems that civilization had already dawned in North Central Europe.
“UNESCO’s interpretation is that the Sky Disc “combines an extraordinary comprehension of astronomical phenomena with the religious beliefs of its period”, enabling us to gain “unique glimpses into the early knowledge of the heavens.”
The Nebra Sky Disc is a 3,600-year-old bronze disc which, according to UNESCO, features “the oldest concrete depiction of cosmic phenomena worldwide.” The disc is such an extraordinary piece that it was initially believed to be an archaeological forgery. However, detailed scientific analysis revealed that it is indeed authentic and the precious artifact is now included in UNESCO’s ‘ Memory of the World ’ register, an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity, and is being held in the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle.
On the left and right sides are two long arcs. These span about 80 degrees each. The difference between sunrise on the summer solstice and on the winter solstice is 82.7 degrees at this latitude, as is the difference between the sunsets on the two solstices. The two arcs are said to represent the portions of the horizon where the sun rises during the year. (The gold coating on the left arc, representing sunset, has fallen off and is lost).
Between the two arcs are a full circle and a crescent. The crescent obviously represents a crescent moon, while the large circle may be the sun or a full moon. (The gold on the sun/full moon circle is damaged). Considering recent conclusions of its original function (see below) it is likely that this is a sun symbol. In the background are 23 stars dotted in an apparently random pattern, and one group of seven stars which represent the Pleiades star cluster (the Seven Sisters or M45). X-Rays indicate that under the gold of the right arc are two more stars, so it is likely that the two arcs were added some time after the other features.
It has been variously proposed that the disc was intended as an astronomical tool, and that through comparison of the skies and a visual display of the extremes of the rising and setting positions of the sun along the horizon (As presented by the arcs on each side), that with the disc in a horizontal plane, it could be used to determine the time of year. In addition, it is proposed that it was used to calculate the difference between the solar and lunar cycles in the form of adding a 13th lunar month, something which is required every two or three years); It is perhaps relevant that the cache site was found on the top of a hill, a good place for observing the suns movements. The site was surrounded by an artificial low bank, which could be used for measuring the position of the sun on the horizon. At least that’s one idea!
The Nebra Sky Disc is one of the most fascinating, and controversial, archaeological finds of recent years. And it can not be fully explained yet today.