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The 4,000-year-old French carving is the oldest map in Europe: the study

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This photograph, published by the Archives of the French Finistère department on April 7, 2021, shows the prehistoric plaque of

This photo of materials released by the Archives of the French Finistère department on April 7, 2021, shows the prehistoric plaque of Saint-Belec after restoration, in Leuhan, Western France

A Bronze Age slab first discovered in 1900 in western France is the oldest map in Europe, according to a study released this week.

The 4,000-year-old object, known as the Saint-Belec Tiles, is carved with signs representing part of the Black Mountains region of western France, said Yvan Pailler, an archaeologist and one of the authors of the study published in Bulletin of the French Prehistoric Society.

“Today, it is the oldest map of a territory in Europe,” he said.

“You can see in the engraving on the plate which, at first glance, are not understandable.

“You really need to take your time to start understanding how the motives are organized and structured and how they are interconnected through the lines.”

Archaeologist Paul du Chatellier discovered the plaque at an ancient burial ground in Finistère in 1900 and it has been preserved for decades on one of his properties.

Researchers just started studying the rock which measures 2.2 meters by 1.5 meters and weighs a ton 2017.

The recurring motifs joined by the lines represented a territory 30 kilometers long and 21 kilometers wide and could imply land ownership by a prince or a king, the researchers said.

“If we could decipher what these symbols mean, we would know what the map represents,” Paillier said, adding that the plaque raises many questions.

“Can we still talk about societies where writing did not exist and about money or protohistory when you could produce a map with an inscription?”


Distinct tile interfaces are located within the mantle transition area


2021 AFP

citation: 4,000-year-old French carving is the oldest map in Europe: study (2021, April 8) taken from April 8, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-france-year-old-oldest– europ-europe. html

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