Sky disc of Nebra shines in Basel

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The oldest representation of the cosmos – the sky disc of Nebra – has gone on show in Basel's history museum. Basel (Swiss) has a special place in the disc's history. It was here that police seized the disc after it was stolen from its place of origin in Germany. The disc, which forms the centrepiece of an exhibition devoted to Bronze Age objects, has been hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of recent times. Made out of bronze with gold embossing, the 3,600-year-old object is an astronomical clock. It connects the sun and the moon calendars together, with the sun giving the day and year and the moon, the month. The moon year is, however, 11 days shorter than the sun year. This was taken into account in ancient times by adding an extra month, leading experts to believe that people in the Bronze Age were already making sophisticated astronomical observations similar to those written about by the Babylonians around 1,000 years later.

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