The newest excavation has already unearthed a handful of beforehand undiscovered slab fragments
LEUHAN (FRANCE) – A chunk of rock with mysterious markings that has gone largely unstudied for 4,000 years is now being hailed as a “treasure map” for archaeologists, who’re utilizing it to go looking for historic websites round northwestern France.
Researchers claimed the so-called Saint-Belec slab is the oldest map in Europe in 2021 and have been working ever since to grasp its etching — to assist them date the slab and discover misplaced monuments to rediscover.
“Using the map is a nice strategy to attempt to discover archaeological websites. We by no means work that method,” stated Yvan Pailler, a professor on the University of West Brittany (UBO).
Ancient websites are most frequently revealed by refined radar tools, aerial pictures or accidentally in cities when the foundations of recent buildings are below building.
“It’s a treasure map,” Pailler stated.
But the crew is simply starting their treasure hunt.
The historic map marks an space of about 30 by 21 kilometers and Pailler’s colleague, Clement Nicolas of the CNRS analysis institute, stated they must survey all the territory and cross-reference the markings on the slab.
That job might take 15 years, he stated.
– Rivers and mountains –
Nicolas and Pailler had been a part of the crew that rediscovered the slab in 2014 — initially found in 1900 by a native historian who didn’t perceive its significance.
Colleagues from different establishments in France and overseas joined the French specialists as they started to decode its mysteries.
“There had been some engraved symbols that made sense immediately,” Pailler stated.
In the tough curves and features of the slab, they might see the rivers and mountains of Roudouallec, a part of the Brittany area about 500 kilometers west of Paris.
The researchers scanned the slab and in contrast it to current maps, discovering about an 80 p.c match.
“We nonetheless should establish all of the geometric symbols, the legend that goes with them,” stated Nicolas.
There are tiny hollows on the slab, which researchers consider could have been the positioning of burial mounds, dwellings or geological deposits.
If their which means is found, they might result in a complete flood of recent discoveries.
– ‘Doomed’ slab –
But first, the archaeologists have spent the previous few weeks excavating the positioning the place the slab was first found, which Pailler stated was one of many largest Bronze Age burial websites in Brittany.
“We are attempting to place the invention in a higher context, to have a option to date the slab,” stated Pailler.
There are a handful of fragments from the slab that haven’t already been discovered after their newest excavation.
The items seem to have been damaged up and used as a tomb wall in what Nicolas suggests might be a reflection of the shifting energy dynamics of Bronze Age settlements.
The space lined by the map most likely corresponds to an historic kingdom, maybe one which fell in revolt and rise up.
“The engraved slab now not made sense and was doomed to be damaged up and used as constructing materials,” stated Nicolas.