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24 September 2014
Science & Nature: TV & Radio Follow-upScience & Nature
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The Nebra star disc
BBC Two, Thursday 29 January 2004, 9pm
Secrets of the Star Disc
Coming Up
Horizon tells the story of the man who seemingly brought nanotechnology a step closer to becoming a reality. BBC Two, 5th February, 9pm.

Secrets of the Star Disc - programme summary

This is the extraordinary story of how a small metal disc is rewriting the epic saga of how civilisation first came to Europe, 3600 years ago.

"It’s the find of a lifetime. Indeed, the find of several lifetimes."

Professor Miranda Aldhouse-Green, University of Wales

When grave robbers ransacked a Bronze Age tomb in Germany, they had no idea that they had unearthed the find of a lifetime. But they knew that it was worth selling. It was a small bronze disc of exquisite design. So they contacted the archaeologist Harald Meller, offering to sell it to him for £300,000.

Meller went deep into the criminal underworld and, after a police sting, he got his disc. It depicted the sun, the moon and the stars. This suggested an understanding of the heavens greater than that of the first great civilisations, like Egypt. Could it possibly be real?

After exhaustive tests, the disc was declared genuine. Then a team of crack scientists pieced together what it meant. What emerged is a true marvel.

This disc, it seems, is a Bronze Age Bible, combining an advanced understanding of the stars with some of the most sophisticated religious imagery of the age. In intellectual achievement and also age, it surpasses anything yet found in Egypt or Greece. It seems that civilisation had already dawned in Europe.


 
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