2,400-year-old map found in Italy accurately depicts night sky — and a mysterious star

Researchers recently discovered a detailed map of the night sky that dates back over 2,400 years.

The map was etched into a circular white stone unearthed at an ancient fort in northeastern Italy, according to a study published Nov. 22 in the journal Astronomical Notes.

Measuring about the size of a car tire, the map is composed of 29 engravings, which statistical analysis indicated were almost certainly created by humans.

All of the engravings except one closely align with the stars in the night sky, according to a news release from Italy’s National Institute of Astrophysics.

The map is considered “quite complete, showing all the bright stars,” including the constellations Orion, Scorpius and Pleiades, researchers said.

Notably, though, one engraving did not match up with an existing star, making it very difficult to explain.

“One intriguing possibility is that a bright star was present in that position that produced a supernova or more likely a failed supernova leaving a black hole as a remnant,” researchers said.

The map — which dates to between 1800 and 400 B.C. — is among the oldest depictions of the night sky ever found.

Creating such a map would not have required advanced knowledge of the cosmos, though.

“A unit of measurement of angular distances such as the width of a hand finger or a simple ruler are sufficient, together with a very basic ability of elementary counting,” researchers said.

It’s possible it would have been used to track the changing of the seasons, at which time area inhabitants would begin key agricultural tasks.

Google Translate was used to translate a news release from the National Institute of Astrophysics.

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