To Berlin – on the tracks of the Nebra sky disc

In August 2022, we travel to Berlin, with stops at Riedlingen, Ulm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Nebra. Now, we are at Nebra and learn about the Nebra sky disk.

 

The oldest known representation of the sky: The Nebra sky disk was found by bandit archaeologists

This is the Mittelberg in Sachsen-Anhalt, 252m high, near the village Nebra, where bandit archaeologists found the Nebra sky disk in 1999.

They found the disk near the white lookout tower. I took the photo in front of the museum Arche Nebra that points to the Mittelberg.

The location of the find has been marked with this sky mirror.

The Nebra sky disk is the oldest known depiction of the cosmos, created around 3000-4000 years ago. It is made out of bronze with a decoration in gold.

At the same place, the bandits found two swords made out of bronze, hatchets, chisels and bracelets, as displayed in the window of the Arche Nebra museum below the Mittelberg.  

It has been built by Holzer Kobler Architekturen.

 

The detective story – how the Nebra sky disk returned to Sachsen-Anhalt

According to the law of Sachsen-Anhalt, archaeological finds belong to the state. Nevertheless, the bandits sold their finds to a dealer at Cologne. Until 2001, it changed owners several times. As it soon became known that the disk was the property of Sachsen-Anhalt, it was worthless for the legitimate art market. 

In January 2002, an agent tried to sell the disk to the state archaeologist of Sachsen-Anhalt. The state archaeologist pretended to be interested. In February 2002, he met the agent at the hotel Hilton of Basel pretending to verify the authenticity of the find and buy it. The Swiss Police confiscated the disk. The finder, the receivers and the agent were sentenced.  

In April 2002, the Nebra sky disk was exhibited in the Prehistoric State Museum of Halle.

 

Interpreting the Nebra sky disk

What I can understand on the disk are the crescent moon next to the Pleiades shown as a cluster of seven spots. The big golden circle is indicated as representing either the full moon or the sun.

The Pleiades and the crescent moon mark the moments for seeding and harvesting, also at that time. 

The two peripheral arrows added later indicate the summer and winter solstice dates.

 

Approaching the Nebra sky disk

The sky disk made Nebra famous. Though the original disk is in the Prehistoric State Museum at Halle, the village Nebra and its suburb Kleinwangen have set up an infrastructure to attract and inform interested tourists at the place where it all happened.

The Hotel Waldschlösschen at Kleinwangen receives guests and…

… makes it clear: Here we are close to the findspot of the Nebra sky disk, close to the Mittelberg.

Just behind the hotel, the path to the Mittelberg starts – with this souvenir dispenser. 

It has faded a bit. I am not sure, whether it has been used a lot. We did not try. 

500m above the hotel, the museum called Arche Nebra invites to explore the Nebra sky disk. 

I was here in the evening and looked at the crescent moon above the Arche.

The coming morning, we climbed the Mittelberg, where the findspot of the disk is, as indicated by the mirror.

The tower nearby is split to illustrate the solstice dates marked on the sky disk.

We climb the tower and enjoy the view.

From the tower platform, we can see the local museum Arche Nebra in the south. It points uphill to the location, where the disk was found.

We walk back down again. It is a beautiful round tour. We visit the museum Arche Nebra to learn more about the disk. However, we decide to postpone seeing the original disk at Halle; the State Museum has just sent the original to Holland.

We say good-bye to the animals at the back garden of the friendly hotel Waldschlösschen with its emus (look at their offspring)…

… and the dwarf goats that climb around with agility.

What a charming backyard.

 

The sun observatory Goseck – a good complement to the Nebra sky disk

Some 20km away, we stop near the sun observatory of Goseck. It is 7000 years old.

The palisades appear behind a field of sun flowers.

In 1991, archaeologists discovered the ring ditch (Kreisgrabenanlage) from the air. They investigated it and reconstructed it with 1758 tree trunks.

We access the ring ditch.

The diameter is 70m. The panel shows, how the winter and summer solstice dates as well as the spring festival of May 1st can be observed…

… based on the “holes” in the palisades, just as on the Nebra sky disk.

Enough prehistory. Now, we head north. 

 

To Berlin with a wet stop in the Wörlitz park

On our way to Berlin, we make a short stop at the Wörlitz park. As we leave the car, it pours with rain. Immediately, we are wet through. We have a quick look…

… and postpone exploring this park for better weather. 

We arrive at Berlin. The city is dry. The Grunewald is burning behind the AVUS. The AVUS highway to Charlottenburg is closed. Ahead of us are dry and warm summer days in my mother town.

 

Sources: Panels in the Arche Nebra museum and at Goseck.