The Sky Disc







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Congratulations for your informative and very well designed website. I was recently able to see the disc in Basel and am as fascinated as everyone else, not the least because of the esthetics of the object. A lot has been made about the use of the disc for astronomical observation, but this seems hardly possible, as anyone who has ever tried to make precise sightings and notations of even simple phenomena like sunsets will tell you.
For one thing, there is a complete absence of centering on the disk: i.e. the center is not marked, and this would be the most obvious point to which the presumed horizon-arcs would be related. For another: can it be that the rising and setting sun describe the same apparent arc on the horizon at the winter solstice than at the winter solstice (i.e. the unmarked arcs of 98 degrees between the two gold arcs)?

If the Mittleberg was free of trees and if there were clear landmarks like mountain peaks, then there would have been no need for such a rough "instrument", and it would have had only a ritual or symbolic function: in the absence of writing, the knowledge would have had to be transmitted orally anyway (assisted of course by observation of the night sky). The use of the disc for implementing precise astronomical knowledge requires so many assumptions that one guess will be as good as another. There is something absurd about the idea of Bronze-Age craftsmen doing their best to avoid representing constellations when they probably had no fixed representations of them in the first place: if anything, the disc should have been the opportunity to prove the opposite. The farmers of that age did not need any calendars, since they had the sky in front of their eyes and needed only a few reference points; the rest would have involved keeping a count of recurring phenomena, and the disc from Nebra presents too many "irregularities" to have served even for that. The problem is not in the complexity of the disc, but in the fact that we just cannot think and feel as simply as our distant ancestors did.

With best wishes, Jean-Marie(10.01.2007)

Please read everything critically as all opinions expressed here are personal. If you have a different one, tell me !