The Nakovana plateau, pictured here, is located on the western tip of the Pelješac Peninsula in southern Dalmatia. The cave where the astrologer's board was found is located just below the crest of the ridge to the right. On the left side of the photograph an Illyrian hilltop fort can be seen.
The cave where the astrologer's board was found. The wall in front was built recently and is part of a sheepfold.
A Sealed Passage
Part of the cave had been sealed for more than 2,000 years. The team discovered the blocked portion in 1999 and dug out a narrow 10 meter long tunnel.
A Hidden Chamber
When the team went through the tunnel they found themselves entering a chamber which nobody had visited in more than 2,000 years. A phallic shape stalagmite was discovered along with thousands of pieces of fine Hellenistic drinking vessels. Tiny pieces of ivory were also discovered that had to be carefully reconstructed, they turned out to be the remains of the oldest known astrologer's board.
The site had to be carefully excavated over several field seasons. This image, taken in 2000, shows Peter Leach and Tim Kaiser excavating around the stalagmite.
One of the reconstructed ivory plaques shows Cancer the crab. It is almost completely preserved. Each plaque covers an arc 28 degrees, is 30 mm wide, 55 mm long on the outside and about 40 mm long on the inside.
This plaque depicts two figures, apparently male, standing next to each other - a representation of Gemini.
This plaque preserves the image of two fishes, a representation of Pisces.
This image shows a running or jumping animal, it is believed to be Sagittarius.
These images are too fragmentary to be assigned to a specific part of the zodiac. Second from left appears to show the leg of an animal while second from right shows an apparently human leg.
These ivory plaques are what remains of an astrologer's board that dates back more than 2,000 years. The ivory would have been attached to a flat surface (possibly wooden). It may have had other elements that have not survived. This astrologer's board appears to be the earliest example so far discovered.