Nebra Sky Disc in court

(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.

8 thoughts on “Nebra Sky Disc in court

  1. It seems a bit late to change the name now. On top of that, if we called it the Copper Age, would there not be people saying ‘Why call it Copper Age when it should really be Bronze Age?’ Perhaps it should be called ‘Bronze and Copper Age’?

  2. Just an observation but there does not seem any useful purpose for such an object. Gold on Copper? Made to last. Perhaps as I feel no need to constantly re-affirm my place in the universe or its creator(s?) I would not feel the need to create such a decorated object unless it served some practical purpose – either as a guide or as some form of quasi-religious relic to help suborn some sort of under class. If it were not for the fact that both gold and copper were electrical conductors one might be tempted to look at the disc as an electrical circuit board, with both ‘horizons’ as slide contacts into some sort of frame. Perhaps that’s best left to the mystery lovers.

    Aldo Lovecchio

  3. Paul/Aldo
    There’s no copper in it. It’s bronze and gold. The green comes from rotten egg.

    It’s supposed to have shown where the sun rose at certain times of year, which was important for the harvest. It may also have been part of the cult of sun worship. The crescent shapes probably represent the boat in which the sun was supposed to travel under the earth at night. At least, a lot of similar images connected with the sun cult have been found dating from the Bronze Age.

  4. ‘Copper Age’ refers to the period before metal-workers discovered that copper could be alloyed with tin, to produce a much more durable metal – bronze. Since the disc was made from bronze, it is quite correct to attribute it to the Bronze Age. There is no trace of a Copper Age in the UK, which suggests that the bronze-making technology was already well developed before it was brought here from continental Europe.

  5. Bronze itself is made from a mixture of copper and tin. The green is not made from rotten eggs, but crystals forming over time on the surface of the metal. (This is one of the means by which age can be determined.)
    When rubbed with rotten egg, bronze turns a deep PURPLE color, and has little to do with corrosion. The crescent shapes on the sides are probably not boats, but the shape at the “bottom” (at least in most pictures), looking like a bent length of railway track (ok, maybe not very accurate, but find a pic., you`ll know what I mean.) is, scientist agree, an egyptian sunboat. This because it was believed that the moon travelled across the night sky in such a boat.

    BlackEarth

  6. Hey, yeah, sorry, I missed your info on the purple in the entry. My bad.
    The focus on the sun travellin in the boat is correct, but the moon was (and is) also very significant. I have read that quite a few scientists/researchers think the moon was “parallell” to the sun, and also travelled across the sky in the boat. But that is but a theory, and I`m sorry for setting it forth as a fact. Then again, nothing is exactly for sure about the disc, now is it? ;-)

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