Until now the Nebra sky disk was deemed to be from the Early Bronze Age and therefore the world’s oldest depiction of the cosmos. Archaeologists from Goethe University Frankfurt and Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich have now reanalysed diverse data on the reconstruction of the discovery site and surrounding circumstances of the find. Their findings are that the disk must be dated in the Iron Age, making it about 1,000 years younger than previously assumed. This makes all previous astronomical interpretations obsolete.
The Nebra sky disk is one of Germany’s most significant archaeological finds and was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2013. It was discovered in an illegal excavation in 1999 together with Bronze Age swords, axes and bracelets according to the finders. This discovery context was important for the scientific dating, as the disk itself could neither be scientifically nor archeologically dated by comparison with other objects.
Rupert Gebhard, Director of the Munich Archäologischen Staatssammlung, and Rüdiger Krause Professor for Prehistory and Early European History at Goethe University Frankfurt have now extensively analysed the discovery circumstances and research results on the Nebra sky disk. Their conclusion:
Credit: Hildegard Burri-Bayer
According to the archaeologists, this means that the disk must be investigated and evaluated as an individual find. Culturally and stylistically, the sky disk cannot be fitted into the Early Bronze Age motif world of the beginning of the second millennium B.C. On the contrary, clearer references can be made to the motif world of the Iron Age of the first millennium B.C.
More detailed information can be found on the website of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ur- und Frühgeschichte (German Society for Prehistory and Early History) https://dguf.de/himmelsscheibe.html
Publication: Rupert Gebhard & Rüdiger Krause, Critical comments on the find complex of the so-called Nebra Sky Disk. In: Archäologische Informationen. Early View: citable online version with preliminary page numbering. After the printed volume is published, the final page numbers can be found in open access here: http://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/arch-inf. The printed volume can be obtained here: http://www.archaeologische-informationen.de
Goethe University Frankfurt
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