Europe’s Oldest Map: Discover the Saint-Bélec Slab (Circa 2150–1600 BCE)


Vue generale de la dalle gravee de Saint Belec

Image by Paul du Châtellier, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1900, the French prehistorian Paul du Châtellier collected from a cemetery a rather large rock, damaged yet covered with personalized markings. Also after he placed it back with each other, neither he neither anybody else might exercise what the markings stood for. “Some see a human type, others a pet one,” he created in a record. “Allow’s not allow our creativity overcome us and also allow us wait on a Champollion to inform us what it states.” Champollion, as Large Assume’s Frank Jacobs discusses, was “the Egyptologist that in 1822 analyzed the hieroglyphics”– which he made with the help of a much more popular inscription-bearing item of rock, the Rosetta Stone.

Still, the Saint-Bélec piece, as Châtellier’s exploration is currently understood, has actually acquired a large amount of acknowledgment in the greater than 120 years considering that he uncovered it. Yet it did so fairly lately, after an extended period of family member obscurity.

” In 1994, scientists reviewing du Châtellier’s initial illustration discovered that the complex markings on the rock looked a whole lot like a map,” composes Jacobs. “The rock itself, nonetheless, had actually gone missing out on.” Just in 2014 was it found in a storage listed below the moat of the estate in Saint-Germain-en-Laye when possessed by du Châtellier, through which time maybe based on the sort of state-of-the-art evaluation unimagined in his life time.

Operating on the concept that the artefact was certainly produced as a map, France’s INRAP (the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research study) “discovered that the markings on the piece represented the landscape of the Odet Valley” in modern Brittany. After that, “utilizing geolocation modern technology, the scientists developed that the region stood for on the piece births an 80 percent precise similarity to a location around a 29-km (18-mi) stretch of the Odet river,” which appears to have actually been a little kingdom or principality back in the very early Bronze Age, in between 2150 BC and also 1600 BC. This makes the Saint-Bélec piece Europe’s earliest map, and also rather potentially the earliest map of any kind of recognized region– and also definitely the earliest recognized map of a popular kayaking destination.

Pierre gravee Sanct Belec

Drawing by Paul du Chatellier, via Wikimedia Commons

by means of Big Think

Relevant material:

The History of Cartography, “the Most Ambitious Overview of Map Making Ever Undertaken,” Is Free Online

Explore the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the Largest Medieval Map Still in Existence (Circa 1300)

Download 67,000 Historic Maps (in High Resolution) from the Wonderful David Rumsey Map Collection

Ancient Maps that Changed the World: See World Maps from Ancient Greece, Babylon, Rome, and the Islamic World

Bronze Age Britons Turned Bones of Dead Relatives into Musical Instruments & Ornaments

What the Rosetta Stone Actually Says

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall composes and also broadcas ts on cities, language, and also society. His tasks consist of the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, guide The Stateless City: a Go Through 21st-Century Los Angeles and also the video clip collection The City in Cinema Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook


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