Archaeologists studying the patterns etched into the 4,000-year-old rock say they believe the markings are maps of an area in western Brittany. They say this makes the oldest 3D map slab of the known area in Europe.
The stone cut, known as the Saint-Bélec Slab, is believed to date from the early Bronze Age, between 1900 BC and 1650 BC. The slabs were first discovered in 1900, during excavations in a prehistoric grave in Finistère, western Brittany, by local archaeologist Paul du Chatellier.
The slab appears to have been forgotten for more than a century, stored for decades under a ditch in du Chatellier home, the Chateau de Kernuz. But researchers hunting for the slab found it in the basement in 2014.
After analyzing the marks and carvings on the rock, the researchers suspected it was a map.
“The presence of a repeating motif combined with a line on its surface indicates that it depicts the Finistere area,” said a study in the Bulletin of the French Prehistoric Society. BBC, Wednesday (7/4/2021).
The researchers say the indentation in the plate is a 3D representation of the Odet River basin, while several lines appear to depict the river network in the area.