Study: Bronze disk is astronomical clock

March 2, 2006

A mysterious Bronze Age disk has reportedly been identified by a Hamburg, Germany, scientist as being one of the world's first astronomical clocks.

The 3,600-year-old Sky Disc of Nebra, discovered four years ago when German grave robbers tried to sell it on the international market, indicates Bronze Age man had a sophisticated sense of time, The Times of London reported Thursday.

"We have been dramatically underestimating the prehistoric peoples," said Harald Meller, chief archaeologist of Saxony-Anhalt, where the disc was found.

The bronze disc is nearly 12 inches in diameter with a blue-green patina and inlaid with a gold sun, moon and 32 stars.

Grave robbers using metal detectors found it in 1999 alongside a pile of bronze axes and swords in a deep forest at the Nebra settlement, The Times reported.

Since the disk's recovery, archaeologists and astronomers had been trying to discover its function. Astronomer Ralph Hansen determined the disc was an attempt to co-ordinate the solar and lunar calendars to tell Bronze Age Man when to plant seeds and when to make trades, giving him an almost modern sense of time, The Times of London said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: What amino acids in shells can tell us about Bronze Age people

Related Stories

Island of broken figurines

June 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Why were Bronze Age figurines smashed, transported and buried in shallow pits on the Aegean island of Keros? New research sheds light on a 4,500-year-old mystery.

Recommended for you

Oceans of garbage prompt war on plastics

December 15, 2018

Faced with images of turtles smothered by plastic bags, beaches carpeted with garbage and islands of trash floating in the oceans, environmentalists say the world is waking up to the need to tackle plastic pollution at the ...

A damming trend

December 14, 2018

Hundreds of dams are being proposed for Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia. The negative social and environmental consequences—affecting everything from food security to the environment—greatly outweigh the positive ...

Computing the origin of life

December 14, 2018

As a principal investigator in the NASA Ames Exobiology Branch, Andrew Pohorille is searching for the origin of life on Earth, yet you won't find him out in the field collecting samples or in a laboratory conducting experiments ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.