Skip to comments.Bronze Age observatory to be rebuilt in Germany
Posted on 09/15/2002 3:17:14 PM PDT by SteveH
Bronze Age observatory to be rebuilt in Germany
September 10, 2002, 20:15
Archaeologists hope to rebuild as a tourist attraction a Bronze Age observatory where ancient priests in Germany divined the right days to sow and harvest crops 3 600 years ago.
They said the site on a hill in the middle of a forest is the world's oldest surviving astronomical observatory. The location has been kept secret so artefacts robbers will not disturb it, but the media are to be granted a first glimpse September 25.
Treasure hunters stumbled on the site four years ago and dug up the world's oldest astronomical map, a 32-centimetre bronze disc, but the first scientific excavation of the site only began last month.
Harald Meller, head of the Halle Prehistoric Museum, said the dig had shown the structure was probably built of logs, not stone. Dating of artefacts suggested the ancients used it for more than 1 000 years. "The structure and the map told them the date, which they had to know to sow and harvest crops," said Meller. "Here they could track the sun's variation from the winter to the summer solstice."
The circular site, 200 metres across, has features that line up with rising points of the sun. The circle, somewhere near Nebra, 180 kilometres southwest of Berlin, had a wall and ditch around it. The site's significance for world history is such that a replica observatory is being planned to show visitors how it worked.
Since August 20, archaeologists have found more than 100 artefacts including half a ring with a spiral decoration. It has been dated to 2 700 years ago. "It would have been worn on the neck," said Meller. The bronze-and-gold map of the heavens was seized by Swiss police in February in a sting operation. Two German treasure hunters face charges of failing to declare treasure trove. The stash included two swords, two axes, a chisel and a set of arm-rings.
The identity of the Bronze Age people of Europe has been lost in the mists of time, with only their hut sites, graves and treasures left. It is impossible to guess the language they spoke. - Sapa/DPA
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