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Typological Comparison

Since the Nebra Sky Disc itself has no counterpart, the accompanying finds served as initial clues: swords, axes, one chisel, and arm spirals.

We know simple arm spirals like those from Nebra from numerous finds of the Bronze Age. These arm ornaments were in use for a long time and are therefore unsuitable for more precise dating. The axes, on the other hand, belong to the group of axes with flanged edges and a slight stop ridge in the middle - a form typical of the Early Bronze Age around 1600 BC in the region of the lower Elbe and Oder rivers. Nick-flanged chisels like that of Nebra are also characteristic types of this period.

According to their shape, the Nebra swords form an original creation, a mixture of south-east and north European elements, as known from some less precious weapons from Germany between 1700 and 1500 BC.

Scientific Dating

With the help of scientific methods one can distinguish between modern and ancient bronze – an alloy of copper and tin. This distinction is based on the fact that copper, like most metals, is weakly radioactive after smelting. The radioactivity comes from the naturally occurring radioactive lead (210Pb) which can still be detected about 100 years after smelting. The bronze Sky Disc does not contain any measurable radioactivity and must therefore be older. This is also supported by the chemical composition of the metal and the coarse structure of the corrosion layer that has grown over a very long period of time.

Remains of birch bark from the 16th to 15th centuries BC were found in the hilts of the Nebra swords. Their age could be determined quite precisely with the help of radiocarbon measurement (14C method).

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