This is the oldest map of Europe, it is engraved in stone and is 3,500 years old

Excavated in France in 1900 and forgotten for more than a century, new analysis reveals that an ornate stone slab from the Bronze Age (2150-1600 BC) is actually the oldest known map of Europe.

Some researchers refer to this type of discovery as a “Sleeping Beauty” since, although the stone was found decades ago, its true history has only come to light today.

The broken slab was reused in the Saint-Bélec burial towards the end of the Bronze Age (1900-1640 BC). At the time, the slab formed one of the walls of a stone cista, a small coffin-shaped stone box used to contain the bodies of the dead. Its engraved face was turned towards the interior of the tomb, but its ends were hidden.

The slab was moved to a private museum in 1900 before the collection was acquired by the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924.

Now researchers from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap), the University of Bournemouth, the CNRS and the University of Western Brittany have examined the carved slab, finding that the slab has many of the elements expected on a prehistoric map, including motifs. repeated joined by lines to give the design of a map.

An examination of the etched surface shows that the topography of the slab was in a 3D shape intended to represent the Odet river valley, and several lines appear to represent the river network. The territory represented on the slab seems to be related to an area of ​​about 30 by 21 kilometers, along the course of the Odet River.

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