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In 1999, three grave robbers were combing through a forest near Nebra, about 180 km south-west of Berlin, Germany, using metal detectors when they stumbled upon an extraordinary treasure. This area of the forest had yielded precious objects in the past since it contains some of Europe’s oldest human settlements. This time the robbers had unearthed two bronze swords, two hatchets, a chisel, some fragments of spiral bracelets and a shiny bronze disk with gold inlays. The most valuable among their find was the disk, and the robbers knew it. What they didn’t know was this precious disk is also one of the most significant archaeological finds of the century.

The grave robbers had found what is now called “the Nebra Sky Disk”, and according to UNESCO, it is “the oldest concrete depiction of cosmic phenomena worldwide.” The disk is 30 cm in diameter and weighs 2.2 kg. It’s blue-green patina and embossed with gold leaf symbols which appear to represent a crescent moon, the sun (or perhaps a full moon), and stars, including a cluster that is interpreted as the Pleiades.

nebra-sky-disk-2

The Nebra sky disk. Photo credit

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.


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