Monday, October 3, 2011

The Skydisc of Nebra and the Solar Observatory of Goseck

My mum and I went on a little pilgrimage into the past. For years I have been following the discovery and presentation to the public of the Skydisc of Nebra.

This Bronze Age disc dates back to 1600 BCE and shows the night sky viewed from Sachsen-Anhalt. It shows the full moon, the crescent moon and the Plejades, as well as 25 more stars. This depicts the points in the agricultural year of sowing and of the harvest. The two golden bands (one is lost) show the angle of the sun rise and sun set at the Winter and Summer Solstice. At the bottom there is a boat, which in Bronze Age mythology is quite often depicted. In mythology it often carries the sun across the sky.
I love this piece.
So on sunday we went to the Interpretation Centre, where there is a nice presentation in a planetarium about what secrets the skydisc holds, but apart from that it wasn't very interesting to me. It seems to be rather set up to entertain families with children, then to address a scientifically interested audience. I didn't mind though, since my mum and I have studied the skydisc and knew pretty much all about it before.
We then took a shuttle bus up to the top of the Mittelberg, where treasure hunters found the skydisc in 1999. It is a lovely place, we walked through a beautiful autumn forest for about 500 metres until we reached the summit. They have cleared the summit from trees when they excavated it, and there is a ring-shape earthen wall which was built in the Iron Age. We walked through an opening gap in the wall and visited the Skymirror, a little monument to mark the exact spot, where the disc was found. I like the connection, the Skydisc in the eart mirroring the nightsky above, and now that the disc is in the museum in Halle the Skymirror has taken it's place and mirrors the sky day and night.

The Sky Mirror

There is a really ugly tower which you can climb, and from the tower there are concrete markers lain out on the ground pointing you to where the sun sets and rises at various points of the year, several of them aligned with other sacred mountains and hills, like the Brocken and the Kyffhäuser. We didn't climb it, becauser we didn't have much energy left and were still to go to the solar observatory of Goseck!

This woodhenge monument consists of two concentric palisades with openings aligned, again, to the directions of the sunrise and sunset at the Winter Solstice, Summer solstice and other meaningful times. It is about 7000 years old and it is surrounded by a wall and a ditch.

Mama standing on the wall, overlooking the beautiful peaceful monument our ancestors created in neolithic times.

The wall and ditch

Sunset seen through one of the openings

It was lovely. Because it was so late when we arrived there was nobody there and we had the whole sacred space to ourselves. It is a wonderful place. It has only recently been discovered and excarvated, and it was ceremonially opened at the Winter Solstice 2007. I left an offering of dried rose petals, lavender and herbs, honoring the ancestors and saying a prayer. The sun was setting gloriously while my mum and I were inside the circle and exploring the surroundings.

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