Where Was The Nebra Sky Disk Found

You may be wondering Where Was The Nebra Sky Disk Found? First lets introduce The Nebra Sky Disk to those who maybe unfamiliar with this relic. The Nebra Sky Disk, is a 3700 to 4100 year old circular bronze plate with gold applications, its the oldest known concrete representation of the sky. The relic of the Aunjetitz culture from the early Bronze Age of Central Europe shows astronomical phenomena and religious symbols and is considered one of the most important archaeological finds from this age. It’s roughly circular, forged bronze plate has a diameter of about 32 centimeters and a thickness of 4.5 millimeters in the middle and 1.7 millimeters on the edge, it weighs about 2.3 kilograms. The copper in the alloy comes from Mitterberg in the Eastern Alps.

Where Was The Nebra Sky Disk Found

The ratio of the radiogenic lead isotopes contained in copper made this determination of origin possible. In addition to a low tin content of 2.5 percent, it has a high content of 0.2 percent arsenic, which is typical
for the Bronze Age. It was evidently driven from a cast bronze blank and repeatedly heated in order to avoid or eliminate stress cracks. It turned from deep brown to black. Gold indentation, which was incorporated a long time after the creation, and the presumably deliberate burial about 3600 years ago, allow the conclusion to be made of a longer, possibly religious use.  Based on the accompanying finds (bronze
swords, two hatchets, a chisel and fragments of spiral bracelets) it can be assumed that
they were around 1600 BC. Its manufacturing date is dated to 2100 to 1700 BC.


Where Was The Nebra Sky Disk Found?

The Nebra Sky Disk was found on July 4th, 1999 by treasure hunters Henry Westphal and Mario Renner, and by the help of Metal Detectors in the former municipality of Ziegelroda near the city of Nebra in Saxony-Anhalt. Since 2002 it has been part of the state museum for prehistory of Saxony-Anhalt in Halle. According to German law, archaeological finds automatically belong to the state.

Unusually for an archaeological relic is the fact that the disc has undergone multiple changes during the period in which it was used, which was reconstructed on the basis of the overlapping of machining operations.

Initially, the gold applications consisted of 32 round plates, a larger, round and a sickle-shaped plate. Seven of the small plates are closely grouped a little above between the round and sickle-shaped plate. Later on, the so-called horizon arches were attached to the left and right edges, which consist of gold of other origins, as its chemical components show. In order to create space for the arches of the horizon, a gold plate was moved a little to the middle on the left side, two on the right side were covered so that now 30 small plates can still be seen.

The second addition is another bow at the lower edge, again made of gold from another origin. This so-called sun bark is structured by two almost parallel lines, and fine hatching has been notched into the bronze plate on its outer edges. When the pane was buried, it had been modified a third time: the left horizon arc was already missing and the pane had 40 very regular, approximately 3 millimeter holes on the edge. The back of the Nebra Sky Disk does not contain any applications.

The Nebra Sky Disk

Research results

The Nebra sky disk was mainly examined by the archaeologist Harald Meller (State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology in Halle), the astronomer Wolfhard Schlosser (chief observer at the Astronomical Institute), the archaeological chemist Ernst Pernicka (archaeological metallurgist at the Technical University of Freiberg in Saxony, Institute for Archaeometry), from employees of the State Criminal Police Office of Saxony-Anhalt, from Christian-Heinrich Wunderlich (manufacturing technology, production sequence from the State Office for monument preservation and archeology in Halle), at the particle accelerator of the Berlin electron storage ring society for synchrotron radiation by employees of the Federal Institute for materials research and testing (BAM) in Berlin and the archaeologist and specialist in religions of the Bronze Age Miranda J. Aldhouse-Green (University of Wales).


Two bronze swords, two hatchets, a chisel and fragments of spiral-shaped bracelets were among the finds. Scientists from the State Office of Criminal Investigation of Saxony-Anhalt and the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Archeology in Halle found that the Nebra Sky Disk and the other bronze objects came from the same deposit. The soil residues adhering to the objects agreed with the soil characteristics of the site on Mittelberg near Nebra.

The similarity of the processed material of all finds is further evidence of the relatedness of the bronze pieces. The copper used for all bronze parts has similar concentrations of trace elements in all Nebra finds, only the content of different lead isotopes varies relatively strongly. However, this does not constitute an invalid statement.


The Nebra Sky Disk is dated using the stylistic features of the found objects. From comparisons with similar swords known from Hungary, it was concluded that the sky disk was around 1600 BC, and was buried in the ground.

Radiocarbon dating (C14 method) was ruled out for determining the age of the bronze disk, as this material does not contain any carbon, which would be necessary for C14 dating. The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing irradiated the gold plating at the BESSY particle accelerator with high-intensity X-rays. It was found that the gold plating does not have a uniform composition. The sky disc was probably created
in several separate phases.

These results agree with another finding. Christian-Heinrich Wunderlich from the
State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology in Halle extracted about 0.6 mg of
carbon from a piece of birch bark that was found on one of the swords. Its radiocarbon
dating showed that the piece of wood dates from around 1600 to 1560 BC. BC.

Origin of the metals used

As well as Where Was The Nebra Sky Disk Found, you maybe interested Where the origins of the metals used were from? In the Institute for Archaeometry in Freiberg in Saxony, the copper on the disk was examined radiologically and chemically. With a database of 50,000 prehistoric ore mines in Europe, Ernst Pernicka concluded that the copper of the sky disk came from ore mines in present-day Austria (deposit from Mitterberg near Salzburg).

At the BESSY particle accelerator in Berlin, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing examined the gold plating of the sky disc with the non-destructive SRXRF method (Synchrotron Radiation Induced X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis). The chemical composition of the gold plating is identical to gold from the Carnon River in Cornwall / England; The tin contained in the bronze is said to come from there. After comparing it with the archaeological finds of processed gold, it was previously assumed that the gold could have come from mines in Romania.


The sky disk was made in several phases according to an interpretation. First state: on the left the full moon, on the right the waxing moon, above in between the Pleiades; Second state: addition of the horizon arc for sunrise and sunset. Individual stars were moved or covered. Third state: addition to the solar barge. Current condition: The notch on the top left and the damage to the full moon were caused by the excavators.

According to the interpretation of Meller and Schlosser, the platelets represent stars, the group of seven small platelets presumably the star cluster of the Pleiades, which belong to the constellation Taurus. The other 25 cannot be assigned astronomically and are counted as an ornament. The large disk was initially interpreted as a sun, now also as a full moon and the sickle as a waxing moon.

The later added horizon arcs each cover an angle of 82 degrees, as does sunrise and sunset between winter and summer solstice on the horizon at the latitude of the location. If the disk was positioned horizontally on the Mittelberg so that the imaginary line from the upper end of the left arch to the lower end of the right arch points to the top of the chunk about 85 km away, the disk could be used as a calendar to track the solar year. Seen from Mittelberg, the sun sets behind the Brocken at the summer solstice.


As a result of the improper excavation, the sky disk was partially damaged. A notch was made in the upper left area, which peeled off one of the stars. Part of the gold was torn out of the full moon. Due to the long storage in the ground, the entire disk was badly corroded. Corrosion that cannot be removed mechanically safely.

In the first step of the restoration in the State Museum for Prehistory in Halle, the soil deposits, after parts were saved as samples for further investigation, and soaked with an ethanol-water mixture and removed with a hard nylon brush.

Then traces of corrosion adhering to the gold were removed by a chemically effective paste. These were removed with cotton swabs. The traces of corrosion on the bronze plate were left.

Finally, the star that had been chopped off during the excavation was reattached and the severely deformed piece of the full moon that had been torn out was replaced by a newly made sheet of gold of the same composition.

Exhibition place

The Nebra Sky Disk is one of the main attractions in the State Museum for Prehistory in Halle (Saale). It has been loaned out several times for exhibitions. Since 2007 replicas of the Nebra Sky Disk have been shown in numerous exhibitions. Hope this article Where Was The Nebra Sky Disk Found answers your question.

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