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Berlin Golden Hat

January 3 2014 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

At the dawn of human civilization astronomical knowledge brought a lot of prestige. I was in Berlin the last few days to celebrate the Saint-Silvestre and thought that a visit to a few museums was warranted.  But even while on vacation I stumble on Astronomy-related Archaeological artefacts or pieces of art.

At the Neues Museum in Berlin next to the “Troy treasures” is displayed the “Berlin Gold Hat”, which testifies to the importance of the priest/shaman in the Bronze Age Germany (1000-800 B.C.). The hat was used to calculate the calendar that was essential in the development of agriculture (e.g., when to plant the seed). The hat is basically a mathematical table. The level of mathematics that the priest needed to compute the days from observations of the lunar phases is pretty high (complex multiplications). Artistically the hat is beautiful, being made of a simple sheet of gold where circles designate days in the lunar and solar calendar system. The choice of gold was probably dictated by the importance of the hat. The accuracy of the marks was preserved over time by using a metal like gold. What strikes me is the form of the hat, a pointed form like the common view of magicians and witches’ hats.

Golden Hat (Neues Museum Berlin)

Golden Hat (Neues Museum Berlin)

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