The oldest map of Europe

It’s a piece that was excavated in 1900. It was forgotten for more than a century. However, new analyzes make it extremely important. It would be the oldest map in Europe. And it consists of a stone slab from the Bronze Age.

The oldest map of Europe is on a stone slab from the Bronze Age.
The oldest map of Europe is on a stone slab from the Bronze Age.
Old times

A multidisciplinary team examined the carved plate of Saint-Bélec. Its dating indicates that it comes from the Early Bronze Age (2150-1600 BC). His study was published in the journal Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française. And they identify it as the oldest map of a known area in Europe. And it’s a sign of the political power of a Bronze Age principality.

The broken plate was reused at the burial in Saint-Bélec towards the end of the Bronze Age (approx. 1900-1640 BC). At that time, the slab formed one of the walls of a stone box. This was a small coffin-shaped stone box in which the bodies of the dead were kept. His engraved face was turned into the grave. However, its ends were hidden.

The plate was moved to a private museum in 1900. Before the collection was acquired by the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924, the Saint-Bélec plate was kept in a niche in the moat in the 1990s. Finally she was found in 2014 in a cellar of the castle.

A team of scientists re-analyzed the relic and found surprising details.
A team of scientists re-analyzed the relic and found surprising details.
3D map

Examination of the etched surface reveals that the plate topography had an intended 3D shape. It wanted to represent the valley of the Odet river. Other lines appear to represent the river network.

The team also analyzed the similarities between the plate engravings and the landscape elements. Details are mentioned in a statement from Bournemouth University.

The Saint-Bélec plate is contemporary with the famous Nebra sky disc found in Germany. This is the oldest known concrete representation of the cosmos.

The Saint-Bélec plate represents the territory of a strongly hierarchical political unit. It strictly controlled an area in the early Bronze Age. The oldest map of Europe in the world is more than a relic. It is the symbol of the power of an ancient caste.

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