Published on: October 20, 2021



What is in news : The British Museum in London will display an ancient object called the Nebra Sky Disc, which is thought to be the world’s oldest concrete depiction of stars.

What is it :  About 3,600 years ago, the disc was ritually buried along with two swords, axes, two spiral arm-rings and one bronze chisel near Nebra in Germany. The burial of these objects is thought to be made as a dedication to gods.

Other Details :

  • Even so, while the exact purpose of the disc cannot be determined, hypotheses about its existence have imagined it as an astronomical clock, a work of art and a religious symbol.
  • The disc has a value of about $11 million and is thought by some to be one part of a pair, with the other part still out there, waiting to be discovered.
  • When the disc was buried it had already been in use for over 200 years.
  • Further, while the raw materials to make the disc were imported from as far as Cornwall in England, the knowledge required to create the object was “entirely local” and was drawn from observing the heavens from atop the Mittelberg mountain, which is near the modern village of Nebra.
  • Depicts the world’s oldest representation of “specific astronomical phenomenon” had five phases over its history. In the first phase, the disc illustrated the night sky with 32 gold stars, including the Pleiades, a hold orb representing the sun or a full moon and a crescent moon. This illustration served as a reminder of when it was necessary to synchronise the lunar and solar years by inserting a leap month.

How and when was the Nebra Sky Disc discovered?

The bronze disc was discovered a little more than two decades ago. In 1999, the discovery was made by treasure hunters using a metal detector in Nebra, a town in Germany. This excavation was illegal and it was about four years later that the disc was recovered from a black market raid in Switzerland. An article in Art Net notes that the looters who had found it told the authorities that they had dug it out from a hilltop near the town of Nebra. The object, which has a diameter of about 30 cm was found along with some other bronze-age weapons.