(Via Handakte WebLAWg, with German links) The Sky Disc of Nebra may be the world’s oldest chart of the cosmos. It’s every bit as important as Stonehenge, and at the same time a lot more portable.
The disc, unearthed by treasure hunters in Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, in 1999, weighs two kilos and is 32 cm. in diameter. It is embossed with gold stars, sun or full moon, and crescent moon, and two curved shapes that may represent boats, for in the Bronze Age it was thought that the sun travelled from west to east at night in a boat. Originally the bronze was rubbed with rotten egg, which reacted with the bronze to give a deep violet colour. Even green with verdigris as it is now, it is a beautiful object and might be thought a fake. But scientific examinations have proved beyond doubt that it dates from approximately 1600 B.C., 400 years after Stonehenge. The latest research information and pictures can be obtained at this site in Halle (in German). Here are some pictures with an English text.
The disc has led to two proceedings: civil proceedings about marketing rights, and criminal proceedings against the men who found the disc and allegedly illegally removed it from its site (it was recovered only after painstaking police investigation and arrests at the Hilton Hotel in Basle). The criminal proceedings start tomorrow at the Naumburg Amtsgericht, the lowest level of court. The defendants are four men and a woman aged between 21 and 64. The defence is apparently arguing that the disc was found in Bavaria or the Czech Republic, where the law relating to finders is different.
The civil proceedings started at the Magdeburg Landgericht, the higher court of first instance, on August 28th. According to a report in NGZ-online, the case is the first of its kind. The Land Saxony-Anhalt, the owner of the disc,
is suing the town of Querfurt, near Nebra. The mayor of Querfurt had terms including “Himmelsscheibe von Nebra” (Nebra Sky Disc) registered as trade marks so that only Querfurt can use these terms for marketing purposes.