Using high-resolution 3D surveys and photogrammetry, researchers re-examined the Saint-Bélec Slab — an engraved and partly damaged piece of stone that was found in 1900 however forgotten about for nearly a century.
Researchers from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap), the UK’s Bournemouth University, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Western Brittany say the current examine of the stone has revealed it to be the oldest cartographic illustration of a recognized territory in Europe.
Researchers seen that the slab’s topography resembled a valley, with strains representing a river community.
From Bournemouth University
The slab, which boasts intricate carvings and scattered motifs, has had a busy life: unearthed from a burial mound in western Brittany, it’s thought to have been reused in an historical burial towards the tip of the early Bronze Age (between 1900 and 1640 BCE), specialists say, the place it fashioned a wall of a small, coffin-like field containing human stays. At the time of excavation, the 12.7-foot-long slab was already damaged and lacking its higher half.
In 1900, it was moved to a personal museum, and till the 1990s, it was saved within the National Museum of Archaeology within the fortress of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in a distinct segment within the fortress moat. In 2014, it was rediscovered in one of many museum’s cellars.
Upon learning the rediscovered slab, researchers discovered the carvings resembled a map, with repeated motifs joined by strains.
They seen that its floor was intentionally 3D-shaped to symbolize a valley, with strains within the stone thought to depict a river community.
The crew seen similarities between the engravings and components of the panorama of western Brittany, with the territory represented on the slab showing to point out a area of about 19 miles by 13 miles, alongside the course of the Odet river.
Clément Nicolas, a postdoctoral researcher at Bournemouth University and first creator of the examine, instructed Source that the invention “highlights the cartographic knowledge of prehistoric societies.”
But there are nonetheless many unknowns, together with why the slab was damaged within the first place.
“The Saint-Bélec Slab depicts the territory of a strongly hierarchical political entity that tightly controlled a territory in the early Bronze Age, and breaking it may have indicated condemnation and deconsecration,” Nicolas mentioned.
A earlier headline misstated the age of the stone. This has been corrected.