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The earliest evidence of wheeled vehicles

in Europe and the Near East

The earliest evidence of wheeled vehicles dates to the Funnel Beaker (TRB) culture in
Europe and the Late Uruk period in the Near East. Results of excavations and I4C
determinations from Poland, Germany, Iraq, Syria and Turkey suggest that the
appearance of wheeled vehicles was contemporary in Europe and the Near East.

Key-words: wheeled vehicles, “C dating, Europe, Near East, pictographs, Uruk-Eanna, Uqair, Bronocice 111, Poland
Jebel Aruda. Arslantepe, Flintbek

Introduction Warka, Lraq (FIGURE 2; Falkenstein 1936: 56, signs

The appearance of wheeled vehicles in Europe 743-745 = Green & Nissen 1987: 220, sign 248)
and the Near East during the 4th millennium BC held chronological priority over evidence from
is a major socio-economic development. In the elsewhere, though their absolute date was some-
past, eminent archaeologistssuch as Childe (1951), what problematic (‘c. 3200-3100 BC’, Littauer &
Piggott (1979; 1983) and, more recently, Sherratt Crouwel (1979: 13).l By 1965 a radiocarbon de-
(1981; 1997)have argued for diffusion ofwheeled termination on burnt conifer roof beams of Tem-
vehicles from the Near East to Europe. In con- ple C, in level IVa, was published by the Heidelberg
trast, other archaeologists as e.g. Hausler (1992) laboratory as ‘2815f85 BC’ (Lenzen 1965: 20,17),
and Vosteen (1996) stressed the local develop- or 4765+85 BP (no. 1in TABLE1and FIGURE 3).2,3
ment of wheeled vehicles in Europe. The ques- 1 The so-called Archaic Levels, from the late Ubaid pe-
tion of diffusion versus independent development riod on the virgin soil u p to and including the Early Dy-
is an old issue in archaeology. Judging by the ar- nastic period, at the area of the Eanna precinct at Uruk
chaeological data in the 1990s. it seems that were numbered I-XVIII and subdivided by lower-case let-
ters from top to bottom. In 1936, Falkenstein ascribed the
wheeled vehicles developed more or less simul-
earliest tablets with archaic texts to level IVb, which later
taneously or diffused very fast from Mesopota- was changed into IVa (Lenzen 1950: 13). IVa is the last
mia to Europe. We favour the latter possibility. It stage of Late Uruk i n the Eanna precinct, which ends with
is difficult to explain how this technological trans- the burning down of Temple C. The subsequent level IIIc
mission occurred in the 4th millennium BC, but is the earliest sublevel of the Jemdet Nasr period.
2 All cal BC determinations given in the text are 2 sigma
Europe and the Near East were never isolated calibrations; nos. 1-19 in the text refer to those in TABLE1
from each other during this period. First we will and FIGURE3 .
discuss the Near Eastern data from Uruk, Jebel 3 The calibrations in TABLE1,FIGURE 7 and the text derive
Aruda and Arslantepe, then those from Bronocice from the Groningen computer calibration program CAL25
and Flintbek in Europe (FIGURE 3 ). (1998) which is based on the newest calibration curve,
INTCAL98 (Stuiver et al. 1998). Part of them replaces cali-
brations of the relevant DIC radiocarbon determinations of
Wagon pictographs from the Late Uruk and Bronocice which were based on the now obsolete MASCA
Jemdet Nasr periods calibration tables (Kruk & Milisauskas 1990: table I; Pazdur
& Michczynska 1990: tables 5-6, figure 32). Calibration of
Until recently it seemed that the wagon picto- the median (after the example of Pazdur & Michczynska 1990)
graphs inscribed on clay tablets from the was undertaken by calibrating the uncalibrated mean BP age
protoliterate Eanna precinct, level IVa at Uruk- with an error of 0.1,0.5, 1 or 2 [‘median cal Bc’ in TABLE1).

* Bakker, Archaeological Centre of Amsterdam University (AAC), Nieuwe Prinsengacht 130,1018VZ Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Kruk, Institute for Archaeology & Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 31-016 Cracow, ul. SI’awkowska 17, Poland.
Lanting, Institute for Archaeology of Groningen State IJniversity (GIA), Poststraat 6, 9712 ER Groningen, Netherlands.
Milisauskas, Department of Anthropology, Ellicott Complex. State University of New York, Buffalo NY 14421-0005, USA.
Received 18 November 1998, accepted 3 January 1999, revised 28 August 1999.
73 (1999): 778-90

1.Location of Uruk [I), Jebel Aruda [2), Arslantepe [3), Bronocice (4) and Flintbek (5)
This early date was recently confirmed by three
other radiocarbon determinations on the same
material (nos. 2 4 :Boehmer et al. 1993: 63,67): &I
average 4670k20 BP or 3517-3370 cal BC.
The known number of wagon pictographs 00 em 1).
(FIGURE 2) is very small. In contrast to about
24 pictographs of sledges (signs 741-742), 743 744 745
Falkenstein (1936) published Only four picto- FIGURE 2. Late Uruk signs for wagons from Uruk-
graphs of wagons (signs 743-745). The more SO- Eanna IVa (743, 744) and probably Tell Uqair
phisticated wagon pictograph 745 occurs on one (745) [after Falkenstein 1936).
tablet (no. 639), probably from Tell Uqair and on
palaeographic grounds datable to the Jemdet Nasr so-called lexical tablets on which related notions
period (Green 1986). are listed. There are at the moment 38 adminis-
Falkenstein published 620 texts in 1936. In trative attestations for the sledge sign (Green &
1987 the number of tablets and fragments has Nissen 1987: 220, no. 2471, and about 40 lexical
increased to almost 4300, of which c. 3900 units entries. Two more administrative texts with three
remain after joining. The majority belongs to eco- attestations of the wagon pictograph and one lexical
nomic-administrative texts, but almost 15% are entry of it are known (Green & Nissen 1987: 2 2 0 ,

site lab. no. BP cal BC, cal BC, ‘median

1 sigma 2sigma cal BC’

1 Uruk-Eanna IVa Hd-? 4765f85 364 1-3 3 8 1 3699-3 365 3565

2 Uruk-Eanna IVa Hd-13042-12731 4690535 35 19-3 3 75 3627-3369 3503, 3428
3 Uruk-Eanna IVa Hd-13043-12732 4670535 3 515-3 3 71 362 1-3 3 65 3435
4 Uruk-Eanna IVa Hd-13041-12713 4660k35 3505-3369 3617-3363 3497
5 Jebel Aruda GrN-79 89 4495f35 33 3 3-3 099 3349-3043 3313, 3111
6 Jebel Aruda GrN-8463 4490k35 3333-3099 3 34 7-3 0 3 7 3225, 3160
7 Jebel Aruda GrN-8464 44 1Ok 80 3307-2917 3341-2897 3097
8 Bronocice 3 4 4 1 GrN-19612 4725550 3629-3 3 79 363 7-3 3 73 3520
9 Bronocice I11 DIC-716 4610f120 3 620-3 100 3640-2935 3366
10 Bronocice I11 DIG-360 4600f 120 3 52 0-3 100 3640-293 5 3363
11 Bronocice 111 DIC-2266 4590555 3490-3121 3517-3099 3361
12 Bronocice I11 DIC-1738 4570f70 3495-3101 3 5 17-303 1 3355
13 Bronocice I11 DIC-1796 4550k70 3 36 7-3 1 0 1 3513-3021 3349
14 Bronocice I11 DIC-363 4520k60 3 3 51-3 1 0 1 3491-3023 3335
15 Bronocice 111 DIC-1791 4440k75 3 3 2 7-2 92 5 3 343-291 9 3092, 3042
16 Bronocice I1 DIC-362 4940k125 3940-3545 3980-3380 3706
17 Bronocice I1 DIC-542 4800k70 365 5-3 38 7 3 705-3377 3551, 3543
18 Bronocice I1 DIC-2265 4700k60 3625-3375 363 5-3 36 7 3420
19 Bronocice I1 DIC-718 4690i75 362 5-3 3 71 3643-3 143 3503, 3428

TABLE1 . References are given in the text. Nos. 1-19 correspond to those in FIGURE3.

no. 248). As in 1936,the wagon sign is restricted 1979: 15ff.).Though sledges can be depicted in
to Eanna IV. the representational art of the Uruk and Jemdet
The stratigraphical allocation of most tablets Nasr periods (see below), the alleged wheeled
is less clear than Falkenstein thought at the time. vehicle scene on some fragmentary seal impres-
Usually they were found in secondary position sions from Uruk-Eanna IVa is very doubtful
in old rubbish dumps, fillings of rooms and court- (Littauer & Crouwel: 13,n. 4). Did wheeled trans-
yards, or levelling layers. At best a terminus ante port only play an economic role at the time and
quem for such finds is possible (1268 items). Of not yet a prestigious one?
these 53 are certainly and 1 7 are possibly older An unpublished find thus deserves attention.
than the so-called ‘Intermediate Layer’ between In 1974 Bakker found a fragmentary chalk disc
levels IVa and IIIc. Most of Falkenstein’s texts, in the Late Uruk settlement of Jebel Aruda on
including his three wagon sign attestations, are the middle Euphrates in Syria, 90 km east-north-
older than level IIIc (Green & Nissen 1987: 21- east of Aleppo. This crude piece of work, 8 cm
51, esp. 3 3 4 ) . The seven tablets found on the in diameter and 3 cm thick (FIGURE 4), appears
floor of Temple C, beneath the conflagration de- to be a model of a disc wheel with integral naves
bris, are the only ones unmistakably associated (hubs) on both sides. It is asymmetrical with
with a building (Green & Nissen 1987: 3 8 4 0 , oversized nave platforms and was apparently
plates 1-3). But the division of the texts into an discarded before the cutting was finished and
earlier group, to which all numerical tablets must the polishing would begin.
also belong, linked to building level IVa (and the The disc lay together with - exclusively -
Intermediate Layer?) and a younger one associ- Late Uruk pottery, obsidian and flint tools in the
ated with level 111 still hold good. Both groups narrow, up to 1.5-m deep, freshly eroded gully
are palaeographically distinct (Green & Nissen in the wadi between the foot of the slope of the
1987: 53-62). The wagon pictographs belong to chalk mountain top and the chalk terrace of the
the older group for both stratigraphicaland palaeo- Jebel A r ~ d aSixty
. ~ metres above the Euphrates
graphical reasons. floodplain, this terrace and the slope across the
wadi towards the mountain top carried a sanctu-
A wheel model from Jebel Aruda ary with two temples and stately and smaller
There is a remarkable contrast between this strictly houses for the personnel (van Driel 1977; 1982;
pictographic evidence and the ‘quite plentiful’
4 The chalk disc was found i n H-J/7-11 (van Driel & van
and far more variegated evidence from the Early Driel-Murray 1983: map 1).It is kept with the other finds
Dynastic period in Iraq, Syria and Iran during from Jebel Aruda i n the storerooms of the Archaeological
the earlier 3rd millennium BC (Littauer& Crouwel Museum at Aleppo, numbered JA 7.

5300 --F-

+ - k Jebel Aruda

cat BC 1 I ,
I t I ' , I

i I
! I I
1 ,
I '
' 1 I
1 Bronocice I l l

' I +-
I 1 ~
1 1
' I

I ~

FIGURE 3. The 19 radiocarbon determinations of TABLE1 projected on the calibrated radiocarbon

determination scale (horizontal). The corresponding uncalibrated BP scale i s rendered by the vertical
axis. Heavy lines indicate 1 sigma, thin lines 2 sigma ranges, the calibrated BP mean is also indicated
('median cal BC'). The indirectly determined ages of the Arslantepe disc and the Flintbek ruts are
rendered by broken lines. The DIC radiocarbon determinations of Bronocice I I l and I l are illustrated
below. The calibration curve i s that of Stuiver et al. (1998).

the sanctuary. The first two dates relate to final

occupation just before the fire.
The typological synchronization of Jebel Aruda
with the Uruk-Eanna sequence -which is based
on seals and tablets -causes some problems (van
Driel & van Driel-Murray 1979: 25-6; van Driel
1982; 1983).The 14Cdeterminations for both sites
could indicate that Uruk-Eanna IVa is somewhat
older than or about as old as Jebel Aruda (con-
sidering the difference in dated materials, beams
as opposed to branches).
Spindle-whorls of stone are quite common
in the Near East, whereas stone models of wheels
or wheeled vehicles appear to be rare (Littauer
& Crouwel1979: 2 1 , n. 29). In general this kind
of evidence is tricky and unsatisfactory (Piggott
1983: 40-41; Drenth & Lanting 1997: 66). But a
5 cm
paper survey convinced us that the usual types
of spindle-whorls of the Uruk culture and its
FIGURE 4. A fragmentary and unfinished Late Uruk neighbours are quite different.
chalk disc from Jebel Aruda, Syria, possibly a
wheel model (courtesy of G. van Driel and C. van A wheel model from Arslantepe
Driel-Murray]. The only counterpart of the Jebel Aruda disc
we could find5 is a ‘clay wheel model’ from
1983; van Driel &van Driel-Murray 1979; 1983). Arslantepe-Malatya, eastern Turkey (Frangipane
The lower walls and foundations made of mud & Palmieri 1983: 407, 409, figure 64:4), with a
bricks are now heavily eroded along the wadi bifacial perforated nave and a diameter of c.
and the riverside of the terrace. The artefacts found 7.5 cm (FIGURE 5). The authors stress that the
in the wadi will thereforederive horn eroded build- shape ‘differs significantly from the usual plano-
ings above it, or from rubbish layers in it. With a convex form of known spindle-whorls’. The
surface of 3 4 ha, this unwalled sanctuary is much model was found in room A113 of Building I11
smaller than near-by and contemporaneous at Arslantepe. Like all buildings of the temple-
Habuba Kabira South-Qannas with its surface palace complex of period VIA (Early Bronze
of 10-5-18 ha and 3-m thick walls (Strornmenger IA), Building 111is dated by local wheel-thrown
1982).Jebel Aruda, probably the religious centre imitations of a simplified Late Uruk pottery
of the Late Uruk occupation of this part of the repertoire and hand-made local wares
Euphrates valley, was relinquished after it had (Frangipane & Palmieri 1983: 325ff.).Some Uruk
been destroyed by a fire, less than a century after vessels appear to have been imported
its foundation. (Frangipane & Palmieri 1983: 349; Frangipane
With the exception of a 19th-century tollhouse 1997: 56, figure 11).Among the thousands of
and two Byzantine sherds, the terrace was never sealings dumped into room A206 of Building
used for any settlement, rubbish dump or inter- IV there were three impressions of a cylinder
ment before or after the existence of this sanctu-
5 Recent updating of levels VIIIA-C at Tepe Gawra, north-
ary. What was found here can thus be considered ern Iraq, to the Early Uruk period [Gut 1995: 224-5, table
as a voluminous closed find. Among the finds 2 2 ) would make a wagon and a cart model as well as 14
are clay tablets deeply impressed with Late Uruk wheel models from ‘stratum VIII’ [Speiser 1935: 74-5, plate
numerical signs,but without language pictographs 78:1, 2) the earliest evidence yet. Gawra VIII is synchro-
(van Driell982; 1983).The material yielded three nized with Level VB at Hammarn et-Turkman, northern
Syria, by Gut (1995: 256-7), for w h i c h five charcoal
radiocarbon determinations (nos. 5-7): GrN-7989 determinations between 5290k35 BP (GrN-11910) and
and GrN-8463from burnt twigs of the roofs fallen 5185+35 BP (GrN-11909) [Akkermans 1988: 130) point to a
to the floors of the main rooms of the stately houses date between 4223-3945 cal BC. But Gawra VIIIA also con-
T I and T 11, and GrN-8464Cfrom burnt material tained younger intrusions (Speiser 1935: 41-2, plate 43:27-
located in the stair room of the red phase of the 32,34,44:42,48) displaced during the construction ofEarly
Dynastic-Akkad period buildings of Level VI [Gut 1995:
Temple (van Driel &vanDriel-Murray 1979: 24). 223-5, 251-2, 267-8 and in Utt.).Presumably the models
The huge fire terminated almost all activities at of wheeled vehicle and wheels were intrusive too.

seal showing a bovid-drawn sledge with a cano-

pied seat, comparable with the Eanna sledge
pictograph, the relief on an unprovenanced shale
plaque in Uruk style (part of a conical beaker:
Siirenhagen 1985: 231-2, figure 2 ) and a n
unprovenanced cylinder seal in Jemdet Nasr
style, kept in New York (Frangipane & Palmieri
1983: 417-18, figure 67:l; Frangipane 1997: 64-
5, figure i6:1, 2). A score of radiocarbon age
determinations is known, mainly on charcoal
(Alessio et al. 1983: 575-80). For the greater
part the results are remarkably young, point-
ing to 3100/3000-2900 cal BC and comparable
with the radiocarbon dates for period VIB 1-2
(Early Bronze IB). This suggests that the VIA
charcoals, found on the floors and in pots, are
largely intrusive from above. This is supported
by the wiggle-matching date 3374k30 cal BC
on burnt juniper beams (bark present) of the
ceiling fallen into Temple B (Kuniholm 1996:
330-31, figure 6; Frangipane 1997: 53).

Wagon-ruts at Flintbek
In Europe, the oldest evidence of wheeled ve-
hicles is from northern Germany and southern
Poland. A double megalithic long barrow (FIG-
URE 6) of the Funnel Beaker culture was exca-
vated in 1989 along a Neolithic route at Flintbek,
Kreis Rendsburg-Eckernforde, near Kiel (Zich
1993: 24-6, figure 8). The older, southeastern
barrow began as a non-megalithic monument,
which had been enlarged five times to cover
subsequent earth graves and megalithic dolmens,
resulting in a long barrow with a kerb of boul-
0 5 cm
ders (Zich 1995: 7 with figure). A cart-track was
found underneath the younger, northwestern
long barrow which covered dolmen chamber FIGURE 5 . A clay wheel m o d e l f r o m the Late Uruk
IV. It was just 20 m long and consisted of two period at Arslantepe, Turkey (after Frangipane 6.
parallel, u p to 60-cm wide bundles of wheel- Palmieri 1983).
ruts and a single shorter wheel-rut parallel to
them. Each wheel-rut was 5-6 cm wide and ing site? It could quite well have been used to
the gauge of the wagons must have been 1.10- make the exterior of chamber IV impregnable
1.20 m. The ‘wavy’bottom of the longitudinal to water, as is usual for TRB megalithic cham-
sections points to wheel impressions and not bers. Loam for potting, the daubing of houses
to track marks of sledges (B. Zich in litt.). The and so on would usually be dug from loam pits
ruts seemed to run towards the foundation pit of nearer the houses (such pits are known from
dolmen chamber IV (Zich 1993: figures 8,10). Denmark). But we can never exclude, of course,
Why these cart-ruts occur just here is the that the tomb construction and the more do-
point of discussion. Zich (1992: 58) first sug- mestic purposes in the settlement were clev-
gested that a cart had been used to remove an erly combined in this case. That the transport
inconvenient lens of loam from the subsoil of of soil from the construction pit - or for the
the monument; later, that it had been used to supply of building materials for the monument?
remove the loamy earth from the dolmen con- -was intensive enough to cause up to 60-cm
struction pit (Zich 1993: 26). But why would wide ruts seems questionable. We wonder if
the loam have to be removed from the build- they were not the ruts in the ancient route along

which this and several other long barrows were

positioned. The presence of the older, south-
eastern long barrow may have caused a slight
detour along its northwestern side for the traf-
fic, where a shallow depression (Zich 1993:
figure 1)and a more loamy and moister sub-
soil made the wheels bite deeper into the ground
than elsewhere.
The ruts are older than a decorated lugged
flask on the pavement of chamber IV. Its type
and that of the tomb (Baldia in press) point to
the Early Neolithic I1 (or C) period of the Fun-
nel Beaker culture, c. 4800-4700 BP, or c. 3650-
3400 cal BC.

In Poland, a Funnel Beaker vessel with wagon
pictographs was found at Bronocice, 45 km
northeast of Cracow (Milisauskas & Kruk 1982).
The body of the wagon and the central draught-
pole are shown in a plan view, but the four
wheels are pictured full-face by round impres-
sions (FIGURE 7). The ‘spare-wheel’ impressed
in the centre of the wagon may actually repre-
sent a sacred image or object (later examples
in Piggott 1983). This Bronocice motif is the
earliest well-dated evidence of the conventional
way of schematically rendering wagons and carts
found in prehistoric art from the Atlantic coast
to Central Asia (Piggott 1983: 78-9). Motifs of
what could be a tree, parcelled arable fields
(ora sacred cloth?) and water or a river are also
incised on the 7-cm high neck of this 10.5-cm
high cup or necked bowl. About half of this
frieze is missing, but completion of the two
‘fields’ motifs at the fractures and interpola-
tion suggest that originally three ‘fields’, five
‘wagons’ and three ‘trees’ were depicted and
that there were four double ‘water’zigzag lines
between the four knobs.
Covering 52 ha, Bronocice is one of the largest
settlements of the Southeast Group of the Fun-
nel Beaker culture. About 0.7 ha were exca-
0 15 m vated in 1974-78. The vessel with the wagon
I motifs was found in pit 34-A1 along with ani-
mal bones, flint artefacts and sherds of pottery
typical of phase Bronocice (BR)111. This circu-
FIGURE 6. The megalithic double barrow of lar pit was 2.5 m in diameter and its flat bot-
Flintbek LA3 of the Funnel Beaker culture near
tom reached only 2 5 cm below the planurn of
Kiel, Germany. Wagon ruts underneath are
rendered by three black bands in the upper left excavation.
(northern) corner. Grey bands indicate lines of Series of symbols as on the Bronocice ves-
former stones and grave pits. A-H are earth sel are unknown from other Polish Funnel
graves, I-IV megalithic graves (after Zich 2993). Beaker ware, although according to some schol-

4 5

FIGURE 7. A cup of the Funnel Beaker culture (phase BR III) from Bronocice near Cracow, Poland, its
frieze with wagon and other symbols, and the other ceramics from the same pit 34-A1 [after Kruk 6.
Milisauskas 1982).

ars other, more schematic wagon motifs occur, motifs are rarely found on Polish Funnel Beaker
mostly of BR I1 age and therefore older than pottery.
the vessel under discussion (KoSko 1981: 152-
4, figure 31, plate 8; Grygiel & Bogucki 1991: Bronocice radiocarbon determinations
figure 2; Drenth & Lanting 1997: 66 disagree Because pit 34-A1 contained little or no char-
with this interpretation). Inverted tree motifs coal, radiocarbon dating was not undertaken
are incised on at least two other vessels from at first. In 1993, however, bones of cattle from
phase BR 111;the water zigzag and an unidenti- the same lower part of the pit fill as the wagon
fiable motif also occur on one of these (Kruk & vessel were radiocarbon-dated to 4725+50 BP
Milisauskas 1991: figure 5:19, 21). The latter (GrN-19612). The absolute age is c. 3637-3373

cal BC, the BP median is calibrated to 3520 cal I) phase is visible (Wojciechowski 1991, who
BC (no. 8). speaks inaccurately of an ‘Early Lubori’ context:
Seven other radiocarbon determinations of Glog6w-Nosocice, Silesia, pit 6). But Classical
the BR I11 phase at Bronocice are available (Kruk Lubori too, during BR 111, is still contemporary
& Milisauskas 1990; nos. 9-15). They were pro- with Baden IB/younger BolerBz. If the synchro-
vided by the Dicarb Radioisotope Company nization of the Bronocice phases 111-V with the
(code DIC), at Gainesville, Florida. Their Cali- phases of the Baden culture in Slovakia as pro-
brated age ranges from c. 3640-2919 cal BC, six posed by Kruk & Milisauskas (1981: figure 14;
of their calibrated BP medians span c. 3366- see however Pavelc‘ik 1989: 164) is correct, the
3335 cal BC and coincide with the steep cliff at accompanying DIC determinations simply do
3380-3320 in the calibration curve (nos. 9-14). not tally, nor do they follow the shape of the
The Groningen radiocarbon determination of calibration curve (Drenth & Lanting 1997: 66).
the bones found with the wagon vessel in pit Quite a series of radiocarbon determinations
34-A1 partly coincides with an early part of place the Epi-Baden period, with cultural groups
their ranges, but its calibrated median is ap- and phases younger than Baden proper (Bos‘Bca,
proximately ‘one and a half centuries’ older than younger Kostolac,JeviSoviceB, &vnBC, Bernburg
those of the four oldest of the other radiocar- 11-111, Cotofeni 111, etc., Neustupnq 1973: 326ff.:
bon dates from the BR I11 phase. Within the ‘Baden E’), in the early centuries of the 3rd mil-
sequence of 27 DIC determinations for Bronocice lennium BC. Thus, the Baden culture itself must
(Kruk & Milisauskas 1990), the Groningen ra- be earlier. The DIC radiocarbon determinations
diocarbon determination would also fall in for Bronocice IV and V (Kruk & Milisauskas 1990:
phase BR I1 with a calibrated age of c. 3940- table 1)arc in contradiction with this conclu-
3143 cal BC and the calibrated age of their BP sion, i.e. they are too young. Moreover, in the
medians spanning c. 3706-3420 cal BC (nos. Cracow region the Baden of Bronocice V is fol-
16-1 9). lowed by a still younger phase, the Zeslawice-
The sequence of the DIC radiocarbon determi- Plesz6w Group (Neustupnq 1973: 329; incorrect
nations for Bronocice looks internally quite Pavelc‘ik 1989: 154). Epi-Baden settlements
consistent, although their rather large stand- (Bos’Bca?Neustupny 1973: 329; Pavelc‘ik 1989:
ard deviations cause a considerable overlap 154) have not yet been found here. Their exist-
between BR I1 and 111. They represent the back- ence is also indicated by the Epi-Baden com-
bone of the I4Cchronology of the southern Polish ponent of the ‘multicultural’ Zlota Group of the
Neolithic, because few radiocarbon determi- Sandomierz upland northeast of Cracow
nations arc available and the typochronology (Neustupny 1973: 329; PavelCik 1989: 158;Krzak
of the other subgroups of the Southeast Group 1976: figures 15e, 37d, 47e, etc.).
of the Funnel Beaker culture is far less detailed The obvious solution of this controversy is
(Burchard et al. 1991).Hence the weight of the to have more Bronocice samples (charcoal and
median values of the Bronocice determinations bone) dated by other laboratories; e.g. small
would perhaps lead one to conclude that the quantities of bone from pit 34-A1 are still avail-
Groningen date for BR I11 pit 34-A1, the only able at Groningen for AMS-radiocarbon deter-
bone radiocarbon determination for Bronocice, minations.
is slightly too early.
Another view is possible, however. Lanting Where did the first wheeled vehicles
points out that the Groningen determination originate?
need not be much older than the other BR I11 FIGURE3 shows quite clearly that the earliest
determinations. The ranges of nos. 8 and 9-14 known wheeled vehicles appeared between 3500
overlap nicely with and before the 3380-3320 and 3350 cal BC simultaneously in Uruk-Eanna
cal BC cliff in the calibration curve, only no. 1 5 IVa, Flintbek and Bronocice. ‘Simultaneously’
coincides with the subsequent mountainous is meant in terms of the fairly unprecise Cali-
range of 3350-2920 in the curve (FIGURE 3). But brated radiocarbon determinations - perhaps
other reasons lead him to the conclusion that one day the date and place of the very first wheel
the DIC determinations are systematically too and wagon can be pinpointed with much greater
young. As early as the late Wi6rek phase, at exactness. It is still too early for this, for the
the time of BR 11,influence of the BolerBz (Baden evidence is scarce and depends on few, fortui-

tous finds - mostly quite recent - and too d It looks as if the oldest wheels were single-
few radiocarbon determinations. piece discs (Zurich-AKADIPressehaus 1979;7
That wheeled vehicles were invented inde- Pontic steppes; Single Grave culture in Den-
pendently at about the same time in Europe mark, northwestern Germany and the Nether-
and the Near East is improbable. Their com- lands). They were soon accompanied or replaced
plex construction, which remained in use for by composite disc wheels (Near East: Littauer
ages in relatively little changed form, and the & Crouwel 1979: 18; Switzerland, southern
comparable technological solutions in both ar- Germany and the Pontic region; a tripartite wheel
eas suggest a connection, as does the proximity model I?) with bifacial raised nave of the
in time and place. If it is allowed to use also some- Colofeni IIIc phase, c. 2800 cal BC, from Tebea
what younger data because of the shortage of in- in western Romania: Roman 1977: 35, figure
formation for the 4th millennium BC, the following 8, plate 52:40).
technological correspondencescan be mentioned:6 e Two wheelwright traditions existed in Eu-
a The oldest vehicles seem to have been four- rope. In Switzerland and southwestern Germany
wheeled wagons (Uruk-Eanna IVa and Bronocice the wheels were fixed to a rotating axle by a
111; wagon-shaped cups of the Hungarian clas- square mortise. (Two axles with rounded cross-
sical Baden culture at Budakalasz and Sziget- section but square ends of the Horgen culture
szentmhrton, Piggott 1983: figures 14-15, and found on two different Zurich sites were dendro-
from Baden context in Croatia, see below; the dated to c. 3200 BC; Zurich-AKADIPressehaus
North Pontic steppes: Littauer & Crouwell996: wheel 1979; several finds of wheels and axles
936; Single Grave culture of northwestern Ger- from the 3rd millennium BC.) In historic times
many, 3rd millennium BC). this tradition had a mainly north Mediterra-
b Already before the end of the 4th millen- nean-Atlantic distribution.
nium BC two-wheelers could have appeared. Elsewhere in Europe and the Near East wheels
This is shown by bovid-drawn carts among the with raised tubular naves turned around a fixed
carvings pecked upon the inside of side-slabs axle. For the 3rd millennium BC we have ac-
of the gallery grave at Lohne-Engelshecke, bet- tual wheel and axle finds in Europe, depictions
ter known as Lohne-Zuschen I, Hesse, Germany and models of vehicles in the Ancient Orient.
(Piggott 1983: 42-4, figure 13). The wall orna- Late 4th millennium EXevidence from the mid-
ments are supposed to have been made over a dle and lower Greater Danubian area:
longer period of time (Gunther 1990: 49-52, Wheeled cups of Budakalasz and Sziget-
figures 7-8). This grave of the Wartberg cul- szentmgrton with naves indicated in re-
ture was used between G . 3400 and 2812700 lief (Piggott 1983: 46).
cal BC according to D. Raetzel-Fabian (in Gunther Wheel models from the hill-fort at Vel’kB
1997: 167-8, figure 128). Lomnica, ‘Burchbrich’,northern Slovakia
c Unlike sledges, which usually were pulled (Novotny’ 1972: 8, plate 3:4). They are
by traces (pace Littauer & Crouwel 1979: 14), clearly different from the mostly biconical
the traction of wagons and carts was effected spindle-whorls here (Novotnjr 1972: plate
by pole and yoke (Bronocice 111; Lohne- 2:l-3, 3:6),but the attribution to the level
Engelshecke; Single Grave culture in northwest- of the Late Baden culture, comparable with
ern Germany; the loop-handles of the wagon the Zeslawice-Plesz6w Group of the Cra-
cups of Budakalasz, broken off, and Sziget- cow area, is uncertain because there was
szentmBrton may represent metaphorical no visible boundary with the overlying
draught-poles). At the time of Eanna IVa this Early Bronze Hatvan level (Novotnjr 1972:
kind of traction was already known, as appears 8).
from the plough pictograph (sign 214 of 7 A single-piece maple wood disc wheel with square cen-
Falkenstein 1936: 56 = Green & Nissen 1987: tral mortise was found in 1979 at Zurich-AKAD/Pressehaus,
176, sign 33; Littauer & Crouwel 1979: 9-10). Switzerland (Honeisen 1989: 18, figure 7). It could belong
to a settlement layer of the Pfyn culture, dendro-dated to
6 Detailed arguments and references to the following points 3714-3681 BC, or a Horgen layer, late 33rd century BC, for
were given by Drenth & Lanting 1977: 59-68, unless stated its stratigraphic position is not fully clear. Unfortunately
otherwise. They refute the wagon model character of a rec- the wheel was treated with preservatives before samples
tangular Baden IB (younger Boleraz) pot from Radolina, for radiocarbon determinations could be taken and no
Slovakia (Piggott 1983: 45-6, figure 14). dendro-date is available yet (Drenth & Lanting 1997: 60).

Two fragmentary wheel models found in the A fragmentary wheel model from pit B2 in
Late Baden settlement Ozd-Ko”aljatet6, the garden of J. Roob at Domony, north-
northern Hungary (Banner 1956: 98,100, ern Hungary, Mak6 Group, contemporary
plate 75:8). They differ from the usual with Late VuEedol (Kalicz 1968: 78-9, plate
spindle-whorls here (e.g. Banner 1956: 6:Z).
plate 67) and elsewhere in Hungarian In the following advanced Early Bronze Age
Baden (Banner 1956: 1 7 2 ) , a conclusion wheel-like discs become so numerous that Kalicz
we can extend to the whole Baden area. (1968: 158) supposed that they could not all
Several dozens of model wheels with strong, have been model wheels, but were also used
massive bifacial naves and a diameter rang- as, e.g., spindle-whorls. Perhaps this stage was
ing from 2 to 1 5 cm in the Baden layer already reached earlier in the 3rd millennium
and much more common in the Vuc‘edol BC (Ezero, Vuc‘edol?).
level at Vuc‘edol,Streim Vineyard, Croatia, f These revolving wheels were kept in place
excavated 1984-1990. Spindle-whorls, by linchpins through the axle ends. If the
again, have different shapes. Important in pictographic signs from Uruk-Eanna actually
this connection are fragments of a wagon represent trolleys or ‘sledge cars’ on captive
model with separate wheels in the Baden rollers rather than wagons (Littauer & Crouwel
layer of this site and part of a vehicle model 1979: 13; Littauer, in lift.1986 in Sherratt 1997:
of the Vuc‘edol culture at Borinci, also in 248 n. 3) and the Jebel Aruda and Arslantepe
Croatia (information kindly provided by discs with raised naves actually are model
Prof. Dr. A. Durman, Zagreb, in lift.). Com- wheels, both wheelcraft traditions may have
parable wheel models have been found started simultaneously in the Near East. An
in 1938 in the Vuc‘edol level of the adja- unmistakable revolving axle with square ends
cent Gradac (stronghold) at Vuc‘edol is shown on the fragment of a pottery relief vessel
(Schmidt 1945: 102-3, plate 48: 8-10; from Bogazkoy in Turkey, from the 17th-16th
spindle-whorls Schmidt 1945: 102, plate century BC (Littauer & Crouwel 1979: 50, fig-
48: 2-7). ure 27).
Sixteen model wheels from the Early Bronze
Age layers XIII-I1 of the Dipsis-Ezero tell, Conclusion
southern Bulgaria, diameter 5-12.4 cm Our conclusion in advance was and is that
(Georgiev et al. 1979: 393-4, figure 194; wheeled vehicles diffused without much de-
for the different spindle-whorl shapes, lay from a Mesopotamian centre of origin to
Georgiev et al. 1979: 387-90, figures 190- Europe about the middle of the 4th millennium
91: four specimens of shape 3 may be wheel BC.
models too).The determinationsfor layers The distribution map of 4th-millennium
XIII-IV (Gorsdorf & Bojadiiev 1996: 138- wheeled transport attestations in Europe and
42) point to considerable disturbance, but especially the Near East is very diffuse. Hence
the lowest layer, XIII, cannot be older than it makes little sense now to guess by what way
c. 3100/3000 cal BC. Charred seed datings or ways Europe was reached. In Anatolia the
of layers X-IV indicate 2900-2800 cal BC. actual evidence is restricted to the Arslantepe
The Tebea model, see (d) above. ceramic wheel. Then follows a large gap, be-
A miniature wagon model found in the lower cause several copper and arsenical bronze bovid-
layer I at Cuciulata, Ple&aPietroasB, south- drawn wagon models, supposedly from
eastern Transylvania (Romania), datable southeastern Anatolia, are typologically dated
to the early phase (A) of the Schneckenberg to the late 3rd millennium BC (Littauer & Crouwel
culture (Bichir 1962: 96; 1964: 67, figure 1979: 37-8, figure 15; Nagel 1984/1985). These
1). Schneckenberg A is probably contem- have disc wheels with projecting naves, once
porary with the early Corded Ware and with separate linchpins (Nagel 1984/1985: 148,
early VuCedol. Both in layer I and the upper figures 1-13).
layer 11, Schneckenberg B phase, model Sherratt’s explanation that in Europe wheeled
wheels were found (Bichir 1964: 67, fig- vehicles and metal-influenced pottery were
ures 5:1,2,6:2,4,6).Spindle-whorls have introduced from Anatolia at the emergence of
different shapes (Bichir 1962: 92, figure the ‘Ezero-Cernavoda-Bolerkz complex’ (e.g.
7:6; Prox 1941: 46, plate 2518-20). 1997: 246,467,470. For ‘Ezero’ see above) is a

wishful construction, for as yet there are no the gravepit lay the remains of three wooden
such metal vessel prototypes known from Tur- wheels of 60 cm diameter each, obviously with
key, nor is there even Early Bronze Age pot- tubular naves. Among the grave goods is a dark
tery known with metal-skeuomorphic features burnished pot which has a parallel from the
that is old enough. Moreover, ceramic features two-chambered slab-cist (‘dolmen’) I at the
like polished dark surfaces, channelling, strap- eponymous Novosvobodnaya site (HanCar 1937:
handles and omphalos bases appeared in Eu- 243-5, plates 35ff., esp. 39:6). How much older
rope long before ‘Baden’. it is, is impossible to say for lack of radiocar-
Arguments for the Caucasian-North Pontic bon data. A terminus ante quem determination
connection are hardly better. Disc wheels with reads 4290f40 BP (Leningrad), 3019-2783 cal
tubular naves, other vehicle parts, even com- BC. It is from a charcoal layer in the bedding
plete wagons and carts found in or associated trench for the dromos of dolmen Psynako I,
with numerous graves of the Pit Grave (Yamnaya) Krasnodar area, and stratigraphically younger
and Catacomb Grave cultures of the steppe area, than Novosvobodnaya ceramics (Markovin 1993:
a n d of the related northwest Caucasian 251-3, 267).
Novotitarovka culture, are not older yet than About a possible third, north Mediterranean,
c. 3000 cal BC (Drenth & Lanting 1997: 61-2; means of contact by which cars with rotating
Gej 1991). In the same area a barrow grave of axles could have reached the Swiss-southwest
the Novosvobodnaya phase of the younger German area, perhaps already during Pfyn-
Maikop culture near Krasnodar must be some- Cortaillod (cf. footnote 7) we know nothing at
what older (Rezepkin 1992: 64, figure 5). Above all.

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