Is this the oldest map in Europe? Stone slab with markings made 4000 years ago shows part of France

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Is this the oldest map in Europe? Huge stone slab with markings etched 4,000 years ago shows a region of France during the Bronze Age

  • A stone slab that has been forgotten for a century is considered the oldest map in Europe
  • The stone slab dates back to the Bronze Age some 4000 years ago
  • It was first discovered in France in 1900 and sat in a castle cellar until 2017
  • Experts recently analyzed the plate, which shows etchings of Western Brittany
  • There is a 3D shape showing the valley of the river Odet in France

A Bronze Age stone slab excavated in France in 1900 has been rediscovered in a new analysis that considers it the oldest known map in Europe.

A team of French scientists determined that the markers were etched 4,000 years ago, showing an area in western Brittany, France.

Called Saint-Bélec Slab, the record contains elements the team says they would expect in a prehistoric map – including ‘repeated motifs joined by lines to give the layout of a map.

The engraved surface suggests that the topography of the plate was deliberately 3D shaped to depict the Odet River valley, while several lines appear to depict the river network.

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A Bronze Age stone slab excavated in France in 1900 has been rediscovered in a new analysis that considers it the oldest known map in Europe.

A Bronze Age stone slab excavated in France in 1900 has been rediscovered in a new analysis that considers it the oldest known map in Europe.

A map is “ a drawing or plan of the Earth’s surface or part of it, ” the team wrote in the announcement.

‘The Saint-Bélec plate does indeed bear the three elements that most prove prehistoric cartographic representation: homogeneous composition with engravings that are identical in technique and style and repetition of motifs.’

The record was forgotten over time when he moved to different locations in France.

It was first reused in a tomb structure at the end of the early Bronze Age.

A team of French scientists determined that the markers were etched 4,000 years ago, showing an area in western Brittany, France

A team of French scientists determined that the markers were etched 4,000 years ago, showing an area in western Brittany, France

A team of French scientists determined that the markers were etched 4,000 years ago, showing an area in western Brittany, France

Using high-resolution 3D studies and photogrammetry of the plate, the team was able to confirm that the carvings corresponded to 80 percent of an area around the 18-mile Odet River.

Using high-resolution 3D studies and photogrammetry of the plate, the team was able to confirm that the carvings corresponded to 80 percent of an area around the 18-mile Odet River.

Using high-resolution 3D studies and photogrammetry of the plate, the team was able to confirm that the carvings corresponded to 80 percent of an area around the 18-mile Odet River.

The plate formed one of the walls of a stone box that held a number of bodies with the carvings turned to the inside of the tomb.

When it was first excavated in 1900, experts moved it to the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924 and then moved it to a caste in France until it was found in 2014.

It wasn’t until 2017 that researchers from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap), Bournemouth University and the University of Western Brittany saw the sculpted slab.

Using high-resolution 3D studies and photogrammetry of the plate, the team was able to confirm that the carvings corresponded to 80 percent of an area around the 18-mile Odet River.

Called Saint-Bélec Slab, the record contains elements the team says they would expect in a prehistoric map - including 'repeated motifs joined by lines to give the layout of a map.

Called Saint-Bélec Slab, the record contains elements the team says they would expect in a prehistoric map - including 'repeated motifs joined by lines to give the layout of a map.

Called Saint-Bélec Slab, the record contains elements the team says they would expect in a prehistoric map – including ‘repeated motifs joined by lines to give the layout of a map.

When it was first excavated in 1900, experts moved it to the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924 and then it was moved to a caste in France until it was found in 2014. It wasn't until 2017 that researchers discovered its true meaning.

When it was first excavated in 1900, experts moved it to the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924 and then it was moved to a caste in France until it was found in 2014. It wasn't until 2017 that researchers discovered its true meaning.

When it was first excavated in 1900, experts moved it to the Museum of National Antiquities in 1924 and then it was moved to a caste in France until it was found in 2014. It wasn’t until 2017 that researchers discovered its true meaning.

“This is probably the oldest map of a territory that has been identified,” Dr. Clément Nicolas of Bournemouth University, one of the authors of the study, told the BBC.

“There are several such maps carved in stone all over the world. In general, they are just interpretations. But this is the first time that a map shows an area on a specific scale. ‘

The rock slab is five feet long and would emphasize that the area was the territory of a hierarchical political entity that tightly controlled a territory in the Early Bronze Age, and its breaking could indicate condemnation and detachment.

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