A 3,000 year-old wooden wheel was unearthed in a Bronze Age settlement called Must Farm, located in Cambridgeshire, England.
The wheel – which dates back to 1100-800 B.C. – is the best-preserved and largest Bronze Age wheel, according to archaeologists.
Historic England (officially the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England), a non-departmental public body of the British Government that helps protect the historical environment of England, announced that the wheel was found during excavations at the Must Farm site in Peterborough; the wheel is about three feet (one metre) in diameter, the archaeologists said.
Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, stated that the new discovery is the earliest complete example of Bronze Age wheel ever found in Britain. He also said that the wheel sheds some light on the technological sophistication about three thousand years ago.
Must Farm has been described as “Britain’s Pompeii” thanks to its relatively good condition. Pompeii was an ancient Roman city, located near modern Naples, in the Campania region of Italy. In A.D. 79, Pompeii was mostly destroyed and buried due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius; it was buried under thirteen to twenty feet (four to six metres) of volcanic ash and pumice. However, the ash left the city very well-preserved; even today, graffiti and murals are still intact on the walls of the city’s buildings.
The Must Farm quarry was also preserved through a catastrophe – a devastating fire caused the circular wood houses at Must Farm to plunge into the sandy water of the River Nene, according to the archaeologists.
Other rare items (besides the wooden houses) were also found at the site. These include: clothing made from lime tree fibre, a wooden platter, jars containing the remains of food, and wooden utensils. In 1969, researchers found a sword and a rapier, and between 2011 and 2012 they also discovered log boats.
The site was partially excavated in 2006, researchers said. Must Farm is currently undergoing an eight-month excavation process, which will cost about £1.1-million ($1.58 million U.S.). Trenches will be built across about twelve thousand square feet (approximately 1,100 square metres) of the Must Farm site, according to archaeologists. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England stated that the project is almost halfway done.
The eight Bronze Age log boats that were found at the site in 2011, suggest that people who lived in the region three thousand years ago were knowledgeable about water transportation. The new-found Bronze Age wheel is a clue that people at Must Farm travelled beyond the river and had ties with that land.
There is actually an older Bronze Age wheel that was found in Britain – the Flag Fen wheel. It dates back to 1300 B.C. and was found at a nearby site. However, there are some differences between the two wheels (besides they age): the Flag Fen wheel is smaller than the Must Farm wheel, at approximately two and a half feet (0.8 metres) across, and it is also less complete than the new-found Bronze Age wheel, the archaeologists said.
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