While early maps are known from all over the world, the key questions always involve: what exactly do they show? And what spatial extent do they cover? In this context, we recently used 3D-modelling to re-examine a carved stone slab datable to the Early Bronze Age (c.2150–1600 BC) that was found at Saint-Bélec in Brittany. We show that the surface of the slab had been shaped in three dimensions to represent the relief of the surrounding landscape in which it was found, while several engraved motifs on it evoke contemporary structures known archaeologically. We argue that the Saint-Bélec slab represents an area of c.545 km2 corresponding to the extent of a prehistoric political entity. The carving and subsequent burying of the slab can be linked to the postulated rise and fall of hierarchical societies and raises many wider questions about socio-economic structures in temperate Europe at that time.
Nicolas, C., Pailler Y., Stéphan P., Aubry L., Le Gall B., Lacombe V., Rollet J. (2021). An early 3D-map of a territory? The bronze Age carved slab from Saint-Bélec, Leuhan (Brittany, France). Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 40, 4, 367-390.