During AntiquityNOW Month in May, we celebrate past lives and how their contributions continue to influence us today. Originally published on August 20, 2013, The Invention of the Wheel: How Ancient Sumerians Got Humanity Rollin’ relates the fascinating history behind the invention of the wheel. What better way to acknowledge the ingenuity of our ancestors than by lauding those who got humanity rolling? And now, we’ve added a new activity at the end of the article that helps you explore more about the world’s oldest wheel, which is crafted from ash and oak, dated to 3,200 BCE and discovered in modern-day Slovenia. Click here to read the original article or scroll down to get right to the activities! Let’s get rollin’!
Critical Thinking Activity:
- Wheels and wheel-shaped parts are used every day. List as many devices as you can think of that we use today that depend on the wheel. (Consider objects in your home, at school, games and toys, machines, vehicles and engines as you make your list.)
- Now imagine living in a world without any kind of wheels or rolling devices. How would life be different? Would it be harder? How and why? Describe what it would be like to live without any wheels.
Build Your Own Wheel:
Click on the appropriate grade level below to download instructions for building your very own wheel model!
World’s Oldest Wheel Activities:
The world’s oldest wheel was found in 2002 at an archaeological site approximately 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) south-west of Ljubljana in present-day Slovenia. The wheel is made from oak and ash and has a radius of 27.5 inches (70 centimeters).
Critical Thinking Activity: Use the links below to research the wheel and the area in which it was found. Imagine how the wheel might have been used.
- Click here to read more about the wheel and its restoration.
- Click here to learn about the Ljubljana Marshes where the wheel was found.
Answer the following questions:
- Who lived in the Ljubljana Marshes?
- What was the land like?
- What kinds of things were the people transporting?
- Given the size of this wheel, do you think it was used to haul large objects or lighter loads?
Drawing Activity: Draw a picture of a cart with this wheel on it. Fill the cart with likely objects that would have been found in this place and time. Draw the surrounding areas and the people who would be using the cart. See how many details of their lives you can include, such as animals, clothing style, types of carts, local architecture, etc.