Mesopotamian Chariot Wheels

The Field Museum

The Field Museum

Who invented the wheel? No one knows for sure, but the oldest wheeled vehicles found so far date to around 3,000 B.C. They were made by people who lived in a part of ancient Mesopotamia that is known today as Iraq. These chariots had four solid wooden axles and wheels with copper-alloy rims. Oxen or onagers (wild donkeys) pulled the loaded carts into battle, giving Mesopotamians the ability to move troops and weapons much faster than their enemies.

From 1923 to 1933, The Field Museum led a joint expedition with Oxford University to excavate Kish, the religious capital of Mesopotamia. The team uncovered ancient palaces, temples, and tombs-one of which contained this four-wheeled cart. Then in 2004, the Museum initiated the Kish Project to help preserve and document Iraqi cultural resources. The team worked to create a final site report for Kish and train Iraqi scholars in conservation, collection management, and exhibition techniques.

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  • Title: Mesopotamian Chariot Wheels
  • Location: Iraq
  • Type: Artefact
  • Rights: (c) Field Museum of Natural History - CC BY-NC


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