An unearthed giant slab with engravings dating back from the Bronze Age may be the oldest map in Europe according to researchers. The 2 by 1.5 meter slab known as Saint-Bélec Slab, was first uncovered in 1900 by local archeologist Paul du Chatellier during digs on a prehistoric burial ground. It was found again in 2014 in a cellar in a castle in France after the slab was apparently forgotten for more than a century as it was moved to different locations throughout France. After examining the patterns, the researchers speculated that the slab could be a map. According to a study published in the Bulletin of the French Prehistoric Society, the “presence of repeated motifs joined by lines” on its surface indicated that it depicted a region of Finistère in France.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Clément Nicolas of Bournemouth University, said that the slab could possibly be the oldest map of a territory that has been identified. The indentations and lines represent the River Odet valley and its river network. Geo-location showed that the area around an 18 mile-long stretch of the river depicted in the 3-dimensional map is 80% accurate. The map may have been used to mark a specific location, according to Dr. Nicolas. “There are several such maps carved in stone all over the world. Generally, they are just interpretations. But this is the first time a map has depicted an area on a specific scale,” Nicolas said. He added that this discovery is important as it highlights early cartographic knowledge of past societies.