Thursday, June 22, 2006

The world's oldest map of the heavens

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

Click to enlarge

Seen from the Mittelberg, a 252m hill in the Ziegelroda Forest, Nebra, 180km south-west of Berlin, the sun sets every June 22 behind the Brocken, the highest mountain in northern Germany. The Brocken is in a direct line of sight on a clear day, 85km (about 53mi) to the north-west.

The Brocken is fabled in northern European mythology as the place where witches gather for a coven every Walpurgisnacht, April 30.

Treasure hunters on the Mittelberg in 1999 found a 32cm bronze-and-gold disc, crafted around 3,600 years ago. The map on its face shows the Brocken as well as 32 stars including the Pleiades. The Nebra disc, with the oldest concrete representation of the stars in the world, was placed in a pit in the middle of a ringwall during the early Bronze Age. The ringwall was built in such a way that the sun seemed to disappear every equinox behind the Brocken. Scientists believe the map and site formed an observatory, used to set the calendar for planting and harvesting crops ...

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