The treasure map engraved in rock

It is a piece of rock with mysterious marks. And it remained largely unstudied for 4,000 years. It is now believed to be the treasure map etched into rock, archaeologists say. They use it to search for ancient sites in northwest France.

The so-called Saint-Belec plaque was declared the oldest map in Europe by researchers in 2021. Since then they have been working to understand its inscriptions. Both to help them date the plaque and to rediscover lost monuments.

The rock-engraved treasure map holds great archaeological promise.
The rock-engraved treasure map holds great archaeological promise.

archaeological treasure

“It’s a treasure map,” says Yvan Pailler, a professor at the University of Western Brittany in France. The team has just begun its search. The old map covers an area of ​​about 30 by 21 kilometers. Pailler’s colleague, Clement Nicolas, from the CNRS research institute, states that they would have to inspect the entire territory and compare the license plate markings. According to him, this work could take 15 years.

Nicolas and Pailler were part of the team that rediscovered the plaque in 2014. It was initially discovered in 1900 by a local historian who did not understand its significance.

In the rough protuberances and lines of the plate the rivers and mountains of Roudouallec could be seen. It is part of the Brittany region, about 500 kilometers west of Paris. The researchers scanned the slab and compared it to current maps. And they found an approximate match of 80%.

“All the geometric symbols and the legend that accompanies them still need to be identified,” says Nicolas. The plate is full of small gaps. According to researchers, they could indicate burial mounds, homes or geological deposits. Discovering its meaning could lead to an avalanche of new discoveries.

What is described in the rock are many deposits that can be explored.
What is described in the rock are many deposits that can be explored.

promise of adventure

They spent the last few weeks excavating the site where the plaque was initially discovered. In the latest excavations, several new fragments of the plate were found. Apparently, the pieces were broken and used as a tomb wall. It could mean a change in the power dynamics of Bronze Age settlements. The area covered by the map probably corresponds to an ancient kingdom. Perhaps, one that collapsed into revolts and rebellions.

The rock-engraved treasure map holds enormous archaeological promise. And the discoveries it promises excite the scientific community.

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