Nebra Sky Disc Update, again

22 May 2022
Archaeology

The Nebra Sky Disc, found in what was East Germany, dates back to around 1600BC – or earlier. Some efforts have been made to date it to the Iron Age but the fact it has similarities with artifacts found in the Stonehenge landscape, dating to the Early Bronze Age, suggests the old date will remain, for the time being. It was discovered on Mittelberg Hill by metal detectorists, part of a hoard of finds that were eventually revealed to the authorities. The other items include bronze swords and axe heads. However, the importance of the Nebra Kay Disc was bigger than its value, in gold, as it has opened a window on astronomical knowledge in Europe in the Bronze Ages. It is a sophisticated puzzle that has been likened to a portable Stonehenge, and is part of the Stonehenge museum in the British Museum, running until 17th July 2022. See  https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/world-stonehenge … In the absence of an instruction manual attempts to understand the meaning of the symbols arranged on the instrument, involve a degree of guesswork, according to Neil Wilkin in Current World Archaeology 113 [see https://www.world-archaeology.com ]. One symbol is obviously a crescent moon, and another, the sun. There is also what looks like a solar boat, but then it could also be something else. Solar boats are thought to transport the sun through the heavens. A group of seven dots is assumed to represent the Pleiades, a group of stars that appears in the mythology of diverse people around the world. The Pleiades are visible in European skies between October and March each year. Wilkin claims such astronomical knowledge was vital to farming communities. Keeping track of the seasons was essential for growing crops. Obviously, it isn’t as until the discovery of the Nebra Disc the idea that early farmers involved sophisticated astronomy would have been laughed out of court. Weather is far more important than knowing the seasons. In any case, the seasons are obvious by the growing light during day time, as we come out of those long winter nights. Something else was going on in the sky. Why would they bother tracking the sun and moon? Might it be to pinpoint a date in the calendar year when earth was threatened by a meteor flux, or something similar? Wilkin goes on to mention the idea of a luni-solar calendar. Might this be along the lines of Euan MacKie. He was a Scots archaeologist that was regarded as barking as he favoured a Bronze Age calendar, possibly even a neolithic period calendar, based on the sun and the moon. The Clube and Napier scenario is interesting but see also Moe Mandelkehr’s various articles in SIS journals.

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