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"Nebra Sky Disk is 1,000 years younger than previously assumed"

Informations and press material for the article "Critical comments on the find complex of the so-called Nebra Sky Disk" by Prof. Rupert Gebhard & Prof. Rüdiger Krause

The Nebra Sky Disk probably does not originate from the early Bronze Age (circa 2200 – 1600 BC), but from the Iron Age (circa 800 – 50 BC). It is thus no longer the oldest known concrete depiction of the sky. This statement is the view of Prof. Dr. Rupert Gebhard and Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Krause. They have carefully analysed the documents relating to the discovery of the Sky Disk by two looters, included the statements from the two sets of court proceedings against the looters, and scientifically examined all the research results published so far. They now present three powerful lines of argument which they are convinced strongly contradict the previous interpretation of the Sky Disk.

The Sky Disk before conservation works were performed at the State Museum Halle, ca. Jan. 2002. Photo: H. Burri-Bayer

Their analyses lead Rupert Gebhard, Director of the Archäologische Staatssammlung München and Professor of Pre- and Protohistory at Munich University (LMU), and Rüdiger Krause, Professor of Pre- and Protohistory at Frankfurt a. M. University, to conclude that the site and circumstances of the discovery of the Sky Disk, which were investigated in 2002 in a subsequent scientific excavation, cannot have been correctly described and depicted in the specialist literature. In particular, the two archaeologists are convinced that the Sky Disk cannot belong together with the other finds which seemed to facilitate the dating of the world-famous object in the first place. Its symbols and its style of depiction mean that the Sky Disk probably originates from the Iron Age, which comes after the Bronze Age, and is 1,000 years younger than previously thought. Gebhard and Krause thus fundamentally call into question the bases of the previous interpretation of the Sky Disk. Their research findings have now been published in the specialist journal "Archäologische Informationen".

The research paper (Open Access):
Gebhard, R. & Krause, R. (2020). Critical comments on the find complex of the so-called Nebra Sky Disk. Archäologische Informationen 43, Early View, published online 3 Sept. 2020. [PDF]

resp. identically in German: Gebhard, R. & Krause, R. (2020). Kritische Anmerkungen zum Fundkomplex der sog. Himmelsscheibe von Nebra. Archäologische Informationen 43, Early View, online publiziert 3. Sept. 2020 [PDF]

Press material:

The full press release of the DGUF with further information and backgrounds, including also on looting and the oldest concrete representations of the night sky [PDF]

Photos (Use only for press purposes and if the source is named)
0. Portraits of the authors:
Rupert Gebhard. Photo: private [TIF]
Rupert Gebhard (photo as b/w version). Photo: private [TIF]
Rüdiger Krause. Photo Barbara Voss [JPG]
Rüdiger Krause. Photo: Photo: Uwe Detmar [JPG]

1. Drawing of the Nebra Sky Disk with damages and dirt adhering before it was delivered to the Landesmuseum Halle. Left: the previous interpretation, where the bigger damage was assigned to the finders. The red arrow indicates the direction of impact of the minor, fresh damages, where the handle of the digging hoe would have been under the surface of the earth. Right: the position of the disc according to the description of the finders. The direction of the minor, fresh damages caused by the finders corresponds to their description. The bigger lateral damage covered with corrosion must have occurred before their excavation. Picture: R. Gebhard. [JPG]

2. New reconstruction of the finding situation of the Nebra Sky Disc according to the description of the two finders. The direction of impact corresponds to the fresh minor damages. The bigger lateral damage covered with corrosion already (now turned to the top right) does not come from the finders and must be older. Picture: R. Gebhard. [JPG]

3. Early Celtic iron sword from the 5th century B.C. from Munich-Allach with inlaid gold sheets representing the crescent moon, full moon and five stars. Photo: State Archaeological Collection Munich, Manfred Eberlein. [JPG]

4. Drawing of picture (3): Sword of Munich-Allach. Picture: R. Gebhard. [JPG]

5. Compilation of latène-age (celtic) swords similar to the sword of Munich-Allach. Below the Nebra Sky Disk, orientated in such a way that it corresponds to the picture motif of the swords. The gold inlay on the sky disc, interpreted by H. Meller as a "ship", turns out to be a rainbow. [JPG]

6. Early picture of the Nebra Sky Disk. This is one of the few photographs showing the condition of the sky disc (approx. January 2002) before it was taken over by the Landesmuseum Halle and before the conservation work carried out there. Important are the traces of corrosion, which are still easily recognizable here. A part of the allegedly fresh damages (see picture 1) caused by the two finders in 1999, show recognizable old traces of corrosion, which could hardly have been caused in the period 1999-2002. Photo: Hildegard Burri-Bayer. [JPG]

7. Further early pictures of the Nebra Sky Disk and the find complex. Above: The Nebra Sky Disc. Below: Bronze Age swords, axes and arm jewelry, allegedly found together with the Nebra Sky Disk. Condition (like picture 6) before the Landesmuseum Halle took them over, ca. Jan. 2002. Photo: Hildegard Burri-Bayer. [JPG]

Clipping report

Status: 29 September 2020

Urgeschichte, Vorgeschichte und andere Archäologien: Eine Begriffsklärung
Das Fach, um das es der DGUF geht, wird mit unterschiedlichen Begriffen bezeichnet.
Hinter dem bekannten, scheinbar einfachen Begriff "Archäologie" verbergen sich viele unterschiedliche Archäologien. mehr

"Himmelsscheibe von Nebra ist 1.000 Jahre jünger als bisher angenommen"

Deutsche Fassung dieser Seite mehr

More on DGUF.de

Gebhard, R. & Krause, R. (2020). Critical comments on the find complex of the so-called Nebra Sky Disk. Arch. Inf. 43, Early View, published online 3 Sept. 2020. PDF

Gebhard, R. & Krause, R. (2020). Kritische Anmerkungen zum Fundkomplex der sog. Himmelsscheibe von Nebra. Arch. Inf. 43, Early View, online publiziert 3. Sept. 2020. PDF

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