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Where Did They Find the Oldest Wheel?

The invention of the wheel marks a tremendous technological advancement of humanity. But who was behind this innovation, and where was the oldest wheel discovered?

The oldest wheel ever found is noted to be between 5,100 to 5,350 years old. It was discovered by Slovenian archaeologists 20 kilometers southeast of the town of Ljubljana. To date, it is the oldest wheel found.

The Oldest Wheel Discovered

In 2002, the oldest and largest wheel was discovered. Slovenian archaeologists found what seemed to be just an ordinary wooden plank. It turns out it was the oldest and largest wheel in the world. The wheel was found in the Ljubljana marshes. Slovenian and foreign experts used radiocarbon methods performed by the VERA or Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator laboratory. They established that the wheel was at least a century older than those found in Switzerland or Germany.

The wheel has a radius of 70 centimeters and is 5 centimeters thick. It consisted of two ashen panels of the same type of oak tree. It was also determined that the wood used came from a tree at least 80 years old.

The wheel came with an axle whose age could not be precisely determined. It is also made of oak and is 120 centimeters long. The design is technologically advanced, as both were scorched to protect them against pests.

Slovenian archaeologists hypothesize that the wheel and the axle were part of a single axle cart. The aperture of the axle was squarish, pointing out that the axle and the wheel rotated together. The design meant that the wheel and axle were part of the first kinds of pushcarts ever created. The architecture pointed out that the cart was already a part of the culture and showed its creators’ experience in making such.

It is believed that the oldest inhabitants of the region settled in the Mesolithic age, around 9,000 years ago, in what was known to be a pile-dwelling or stilt house settlement. Pile-dwelling settlements existed from 5,000 to 500 BC. The settlers were hunter-gatherers. 

The discovery made its debut exhibit in 2013 in Slovenia. (Source: Slovenia SI)

The Invention of the Wheel

The wheel was known to have originated from ancient Mesopotamia, in the late Neolithic period around 4,000 to 3,500 BC. The invention of the wheel came about together with several technological advancements of earlier civilizations as they transitioned to the Bronze age.

The oldest graphic evidence of the wheel was discovered in the city of Ur, in present-day Iraq. Yet, according to historians, it was invented in the ancient Halaf, or Syria, between 6,500 to 5,100 BC. The discovery of the old wheel in the Ljubljana marshes questioned its long-accepted origins when it was discovered in Europe instead of the Mesopotamian region.

The discovery started the debate on who invented the wheel or if it could have possibly been invented simultaneously in Mesopotamia and Europe. It was also thought that the wheel was first developed not as a transportation device but as a tool for potters. (Source: Ancient Code)

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