The Nebra Sky Disk is a bronze disk of around 32 cm diameter, with a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These are interpreted generally as a sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars (including a cluster interpreted as the Pleiades). Two golden arcs along the sides, marking the angle between the solstices, were added later. A final addition was another arc at the bottom surrounded with multiple strokes (of uncertain meaning, variously interpreted as a Solar Barge with numerous oars, as the Milky Way or as a rainbow). The disk is attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, and associatively dated to c. 1600 BC. It has been associated with the Bronze Age Unetice culture. The disk is unlike any known artistic style from the period, and had initially been suspected of being a forgery, but is now widely accepted as authentic. The disk appeared as if from nowhere on the international antiquities market in 2001. Its seller claimed that it had been looted by illegal treasure hunters with a metal detector in 1999. Archaeological artifacts are the property of the state in Saxony-Anhalt and following a police sting operation in Basel, Switzerland, the disk was acquired by the state archaeologist, Dr Harald Meller. As part of a plea bargain, the illicit owners led police and archaeologists to the site where they had found it together with other remains (two bronze swords, two hatchets, a chisel and fragments of spiral bracelets). Though no witnesses were present at the first discovery, archaeologists have opened a dig at the site and have uncovered evidence that support the looters' claim (in the form of traces of bronze artefacts in the ground, as well as matching earth samples found sticking to the artifacts). The disk and its accompanying finds are now in Halle in the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte (State Museum for Prehistory) of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. The two looters received a four months and a ten months sentence by a Naumburg court in September 2003. An appeal court raised these to six and twelve months, respectively. The discovery site identified by the arrested metal detectorists is a prehistoric enclosure encircling the top of a 252 metres (827 ft) elevation in the Ziegelroda Forest, known as Mittelberg ("central hill"), some 60 km west of Leipzig. The surrounding area is known to have been settled since the Neolithic, and Ziegelroda Forest is said to contain around 1,000 barrows. The enclosure is oriented in such a way that the sun seems to set every solstice behind the Brocken, the highest peak of the Harz mountains, some 80 km to the north-west. It was claimed by the treasure-hunters that the artefacts were discovered within a pit inside the bank-and-ditch enclosure. The significance of the site to prehistoric dwellers is underlined by the proximity to the much older Goseck circle. The precise dating of the Nebra skydisk depended upon the dating of a number of Bronze Age weapons, which were offered for sale with the disk and said to be from the same site. These axes and swords can be typologically dated to the mid 2nd millennium BC (Unetice culture). Radiocarbon dating of a birchbark particle found on one of the swords to between 1600 and 1560 BC confirmed this estimate. This corresponds to the date of burial, at which time the disk had likely been in existence for several generations. The nearly circular original plate has a diameter of about 32 centimeters and a thickness of 4.5 millimeters and 1.7 millimeters in the center on the edge. It weighs about 2.3 kilograms. The original disc is made of bronze. Our replica has a diameter of about 32 cm and was replicated on 2 mm thick copper. Weight 1.3 kg. All Gold coverings are done with real 22k gold.
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