The Nebra Sky Disk

Nebra Sky Disk
Image: alexander-haarig

Just a little over 16 years ago, 3 treasure hunters were in search of treasure in the forest near Nebra, about 112 mi (180 km) from Berlin. The area is known for having had a prehistoric village there in the distant past.

That was exactly what the treasure hunters had been counting on when they went to dig there in 1999. Their metal detectors came upon a find that went far beyond their wildest expectations - from the earth they dug up 2 bronze swords, 2 axeheads, a chisel, fragments of spiral-shaped bracelets and the mysterious bronze disk with its golden encrustations.

The disk turned out to be an authentic treasure and quickly sunk within the antique smuggling underground. 2 years later, in 2001, it was found by Swiss police and given over for study.

The artifact, which was later given the nickname the "Nebra Sky Disk" in honor of the area in which it was discovered, immediately sparked the interest of scientists.

The object was a bronze disk about 12 1/2″ (32 cm) in diameter and between 1/2″ (1.5 cm) - 1 1/2″ (4 cm) thick. It weighs about 4.5 lb (2 kg) and is inlaid with golden symbols, which to the amazement of scientists represent an accurate astronomical copy of the Pleiades star system.

The surface of the disk is decorated with symbols of a crescent, the Sun, stars and the above mentioned star system and according to UNESCO this is the oldest known bronze depiction of cosmic phenomena in the world.

A compelling fact - some of the golden elements of the disk were added later on, after its creation, and recreate various astronomical phenomena, such as the fall equinox and others, as if viewed from the Mittelberg hill, where the disk was found.

To modern scientists it's no secret that ancient peoples were familiar with the planets and stars and had a basic understanding of astronomy.


Proof of this are ancient structures such as Stonehenge, which were built in accordance with the Moon, various star systems and others.

The 1st realistic sky maps were discovered in ancient Egypt and are about 3400 years old.

But according to experts the Nebra Sky Disk comes from the late Bronze Age and is dated to being at least 3600 years old.

Another curious detail that astonishes the scientific community is the circumstance that it was found in a location that had no developed ancient civilization in the past, such as Egypt or Greece, but was found in Germany.

At that time, nearly 4000 years ago, there were no highly advanced cultures existing there.

The ancients there had no written language, and led a rather miserable existence, if we were to judge based on the other artifacts - swords and axes.

So then where did they get such deep astronomical knowledge, which they so skillfully re-created on bronze and gold?

Could they have received information about the heavenly movement of the stars from the inhabitants of ancient Egypt, with whom they must have traded, or are we talking about a cunning forgery, accusations that have recently sprung up?

According to leading German archaeologist Peter Schauer from the University of Regensburg, the Nebra Sky Disk is nothing but a fake, seeking its 15 min. of fame.

The scientist claims that the uppermost green layer of patina on the artifact, which should provide information about the age of the bronze object, was not formed as a result of sitting in the ground for thousands of years but was applied in a chemical laboratory.

Despite the issues raised about its authenticity, the Nebra Sky Disk is considered genuine by the majority of experts and is exhibited at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, near the original location where it was found by the treasure hunters.