Strange European Stone Discs

stone discs
Musée d'archéologie nationale

For more than a few centuries now, throughout whole Europe, archaeologists find strange stone tools which look like well faceted discs with a hole in the center.

The diameter of the discs is usually between 11 and 19 cm (4.3-7.4 inches) and the hole in the center has a diameter of 6-7 cm (2.3-2.7 inches). Some of the discs are tapered, while others follow a circular ending.

Most of the discs were made from different types of rock – serpentinite, amphibolite, phyllite, limestone, sometimes schist, but there are some discs made from nephrite, jadeite and other precious stones, mined in the Southern Alps.

Based on the layers in which most of the discs were found, their age is estimated to be around 6,000-8,000 years.

The purpose of the European stone discs is still unknown. Bracelets? Wearing such a disc would be highly inconvenient. But, as we know, what wouldn’t people do to make themselves beautiful. However, the stone discs were not found near tombs and graves, so this theory is highly improbable.

According to another theory, the mysterious discs were used as projectiles, like the Japanese shuriken or Australian boomerang. They may have served as hunting tools for early Neolithic hunters.

There is also the astronomical theory. Back in those days the North star (also known as Pole star) didn’t point to the North pole. Four thousand years ago, it was located 22 degrees on the side, and 6,000 years ago the offset was 32 degrees.

Our ancient ancestors had to know where is North to be able to orientate. They saw that the night sky is rotating around a particular point in the sky, only that point wasn’t a single star but the center of a whole group of stars. When pointing the stone disc at this group of stars and looking through the central hole, they could actually see all the stars arranged around the edge of the disc. This way they were able to determine the imaginary dot, pointing north.

These discs may have served as kind of a night clock. Pointing them to the sky north pole and measuring the offset of certain stars, Neolithic people might have been able to determine how much time was left to midnight or sunrise.

Some of the discs, found all across Europe, contain cuts that may have served for measuring this offset. Adding to the credibility of this theory is the fact that most of the “dimensioned” discs were found on mountains and high hills, and we know for a fact that ancient astronomy was practiced mostly on high spots where the sky and the stars would be more clearly visible.