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The "Bronze Disk of Sangerhausen"

Since March 11th 2002, the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte (State Museum for Prehistory) in Halle (Saale) is in possession of one of the most significant key finds of early European cultural and intellectual history. It is a bronze disc with gold foil ornaments of ca. 30 cm diameter and a weight of ca. 2 kg.
The disc was discovered near Sangerhausen by local looters in the late 1990s together with a number of other bronze objects:

  • two swords with gold foil ornaments
  • two axes
  • one chisel
  • fragments of arm spirals.

Evidence of the original situation is scarce, the context was destroyed during the illegal excavation. The treasure was possibly found lying in a stone cist near an enclosure.
The find is dated to the Early Bronze Age and about 3,600 years old. The gold foil ornaments are arranged to create a picture of the firmament. The stars, accumulations of stars, the sun or moon, and the crescent moon were purposely grouped to form a specific arrangement. Here mythological ideas were apparently connected with specific constellations of stars, which were based on exact astronomical measurements and observations.

The bronze disc consequently shows the oldest cosmological picture known so far. It is older than the Egyptian pictures of the firmament that are known from Pharaonic graves. The disc of stars will provide fundamental insights into early European intellectual history.
The well-known construction of cult monuments along astronomical structures, like Stonehenge, and the Later Bronze Age iconography – the sun ship, sun chariot, and other symbols for the stars and the moon – now gain further significance.

In 1999 the "Treasure of Sangerhausen" made its first appearance within the academic world when it was offered under dubious circumstances first to a Berlin and later to a Munich museum. However, soon both the origin as well as the illegal nature of its acquisition became clear.
The only legitimate owner of this object is the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. All trustworthy people therefore refused any further offers. The find consequently disappeared from the scene and apparently changed hands a couple of times. In 2001 it resurfaced again for professional archaeologists. The whole treasure was still supposed to be complete, but it was also rumoured that a sale outside of Germany was in the making.
The Ministry of Culture as well as the Ministry of the Interior of Saxony-Anhalt both took measures together with the State Office for Archaeology to rescue this important collection. The authorities succeeded in contacting the owners, who insisted on a meeting in Switzerland to be able to cut a deal without the complications of German legislation. Despite several deceptive attempts the Swiss police, which was asked for assistance, finally moved in during a faked sales meeting and was able to take the criminals into custody. After a court decision the treasure was then taken to Halle.

Before its restoration and scientific analysis the treasure has been presented to the public in a first exhibition. Under the title "Das Universum ist eine Scheibe" (The Universe – a Disc) the collection was presented in the State Museum for Prehistory in Halle between April 14th and 28th 2002 during extended opening hours.

After the short exhibition in April 2002 the treasure has been described scientifically. The results will be published in a catalog somwhere in March 2003.
At the end of 2003 there has been an international congress about these findings.

In 2003 / beginning 2004 the findings of Sangerhausen were showed during a "Landesausstellung" in the Landesmuseum of Halle.

For more information watch:
Auf dieser Internetseite gibt es Hintergrundinformationen und Abbildungen der Funde, sowie Infos zu den aktuellen Forschungsergebnissen.

See also "Gold hats of ancient Bronze Age"

Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte
Richard - Wagner - Str. 9 -10
06114 Halle

Tel. 0345 5247363
The museum can be reached with Tram 7, stop Mozartstrasse. The stop is next to the Landesmuseum
The museum is closed on Mondays
Kids € 1,-
Adults € 2,50
Family-card € 5,-

Attention! Please contact the museum to find out if the findings are available for viewing by the public.

Dutch tv had on May, 3rd 2002 a news item about the results of the examination in the program "2vandaag" .
The bronze disk of Sangerhausen has been examined and this resulted in the following additional information:
The maker did put the stars on those places on purpose; he (or "she"?) corrected (removed) some "wrong" stars. -based upon röntgen-examination.
The gold foil has been hammered -based upon röntgen-examination.; the hammer beats are still visible on the sun/moon ...
The bronze is really ancient -based upon chemical research of the bronze
The cluster of 7 stars on the disk are very probably the Plejads. These group of stars was also visible during the bronze age. -based upon astronomical examination.

Writer / editor

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