Is it the oldest map in Europe? A stone slab with marks made 4000 years ago shows part of France

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Is it the oldest map in Europe? A giant stone slab with markings engraved 4000 years ago represents a region of France in the Bronze Age

  • A stone slab forgotten for a century has been considered the oldest map of Europe
  • The stone slab dates back around 4000 years to the Bronze Age
  • It was first discovered in France in 1900, then ended up in a castle cellar until 2017
  • Experts recently analyzed the slab, which shows engravings from West Brittany
  • There is a 3D shape to represent the Odet valley in France

A Bronze Age stone slab discovered in France in 1900 has been rediscovered in a new analysis which considers it the oldest known map of Europe.

A team of French scientists determined that the marks were engraved 4,000 years ago and represented a region in western Brittany, France.

The slab, dubbed Saint-Bélec Slab, includes elements the team says they expect on a prehistoric map – including “ repeating patterns joined by lines to give the layout of a map.

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The engraved surface suggests that the topography of the slab was deliberately formed in 3D to represent the Odet valley, while several lines seem to represent the river network.

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A Bronze Age stone slab discovered in France in 1900 has been rediscovered in a new analysis which considers it the oldest known map of Europe

“A map is” a drawing or plan of the surface of the Earth or a part of it, “the team wrote in the announcement.

“The Dalle de Saint-Bélec indeed bears the three most convincing elements of prehistoric cartographic representation: a homogeneous composition with identical engravings in technique and style and the repetition of the motifs.

The slab had been forgotten over time as it moved to different places in France.

It was first reused in a burial structure at the end of the early Bronze Age.

Using high-resolution 3D surveys and slab photogrammetry, the team was able to confirm that the engravings corresponded to 80% of an area surrounding the 18 km long Odet River.

Using high-resolution 3D surveys and slab photogrammetry, the team was able to confirm that the engravings corresponded to 80% of an area surrounding the 18 km long Odet River.

The slab formed one of the walls of a stone coffin which contained a number of bodies with the engravings facing the interior of the tomb.

When it was first discovered in 1900, experts transferred it to the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924, then it was transferred to a caste in France until its discovery in 2014.

However, it was not until 2017 that researchers from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap), the University of Bournemouth and the University of Western Brittany laid eyes on the sculpted slab.

Using high-resolution 3D surveys and slab photogrammetry, the team was able to confirm that the engravings corresponded to 80% of an area surrounding the 18-mile-long Odet River.

When it was first discovered in 1900, experts transferred it to the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924, then it was transferred to a caste in France until its discovery in 2014. However, it was not until 2017 that researchers discovered its true meaning

When it was first discovered in 1900, experts transferred it to the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924, then it was transferred to a caste in France until its discovery in 2014. However, it was not until 2017 that researchers discovered its true meaning

“This is probably the oldest map of a territory that has been identified,” Dr Clément Nicolas of the University of Bournemouth, one of the study’s authors, told the TBEN.

“There are several such maps set in stone all over the world. In general, these are only interpretations. But this is the first time that a map represents an area at a specific scale ”.

The rock sheet is five feet by six feet long and is believed to point out that the region was territory of a hierarchical political entity that tightly controlled territory in the early Bronze Age, and its breaking could have indicated condemnation and a deconsecration.

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