The circle and the disk
During the Neolithic, the peoples of central Europe observed the sky carefully. The traces of a vast circular structure were found by airplane, in the beginning of the 1990s, in the south part of the Land of Sachsen-Anhalt, in Germany, close to Goseck.
Goseck's site discovery
The excavations undertaken in 2002 indicate that the construction of the site roughly goes back to 5000 years before our era.
With a diameter of about 75 metres (246 feet), the site was, at the origin, composed of four concentric circles: two outer circles trimming a ditch; two inner ones of man-high wooden palisades. Three sets of gates allowed the accepted individuals to rejoin the centre of the structure. In fact, while the individual was progressing towards the centre, the gates of a set became narrower as if to underline the restricted access to the inner-most circle.
The gates of two sets respectively point south-east and south-west whereas the gates of the last set turn towards north. If we put ourselves in the astronomical conditions of the 5th Millennium before our era, we note that an individual, standing in the centre of the structure at the winter solstice, saw the sunrise in line with the south-east gates and the sunset in line with the south-west gates. The set of the gates opening towards north indicated the direction of the projection, on the terrestrial plan, of the celestial poles axis around which the apparent cyclic movement of planets, stars and cosmos in general is carried out. The centre of the cosmic wheel, of the celestial wheel finds its reflection in the centre of the terrestrial circular structure.
The site of Goseck constitutes one of the oldest astronomical observatories, rebuilt today by archaeologists.
Nebra's disk discovery
The site structure can be brought closer to one of the disc discovered, in 1999, on the summit of Mittelberg, near the small town Nebra located at 25 km to the west of Goseck. It is kept in the astronomical and archaeological centre,
This bronze object of circular form, enhanced with gold leaf, dates roughly from 1600 years before our era. It weighs almost 2 kg and its diameter measures approximately 32 cm (12.6 inches). The golden inlays are composed of dots representing stars, a waxing moon crescent and a full moon or sun as well as arcs edging the disc.
The arc on the right edge of the disc matches a similar one on the left edge, which has disappeared. This arc seems to be related to the position of the sun at privileged moments of the year just as the arc delimited by the southern gates of the site of Goseck. The arc on the lower edge of the disc is turned towards a cluster of seven stars evoking the constellation of the Pleiades and must be related to it.
It is the oldest representation of the celestial vault found in Europe.