See a 4000-year-old 3D map of France

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See a 4000-year-old 3D map of France


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Kids these days find it hard to believe that we ever had to settle for something as archaic as folding paper maps for orientation. But wait until they learn how it was done in the Bronze Age! A large slab of rock, measuring five by six and a half feet, is believed to be the oldest 3D map of Europe in the world. We’re going to need a bigger glove box!

The rock, known as the Saint-Bélec slab, comes from France and is thought to date from the beginning of the Bronze Age, between 1900 BCE and 1650 BCE. It was initially discovered during the excavations of a prehistoric cemetery in Finistère (western Brittany) by local archaeologist Paul du Chatellier in 1900 AD. It then remained forgotten, stored for decades under a ditch at the archaeologist’s, Kernuz Castle, for more than a century.

The engraved slab of Saint Bélec in Leuhan was recovered in 1900 and quickly relegated to a castle cellar for more than 100 years.

Rediscovered in a cellar in 2014, the Dalle de Saint-Bélec has been studied for seven years, and archaeologists now estimate that the 4000-year-old stone bears a rough map of a region in western Brittany.

The “presence of repeated patterns connected by lines” on its surface suggested that it represented a region of Finistere, according to a study by the Bulletin of the French Prehistory Society, according to the BBC News report. Comparisons with contemporary topography indicate an approximate but fairly precise resemblance to an 18 mile area in the Odet River valley.

The map is believed to be accurate to about 80% of the 18 mile region along the Odet River that it probably represents.

“It is probably the oldest map of a territory [in Europe] who has been identified, ”Clément Nicolas of the University of Bournemouth, one of the study’s authors, told the BBC. Nicholas believes the map may have been used to identify the land holdings of a prince or king at the time.

“We tend to underestimate the geographic knowledge of past societies. This slab is important because it highlights this cartographic knowledge ”, Nicolas continued. With this research, humanity’s breadth and interest in mapping is once again affirmed – but we must abandon it to millennia to come up with options with greater portability.

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