Washington, June 28 (ANI): A new analysis of carts that date back to 6,000 to 5,000 years ago, has indicated that some of the world's first farmers may have sped around in two-wheeled carts pulled by camels and bulls.
According to a report in Discovery News, the cart models, which may have been ritual objects or children's toys, were found at Altyndepe, a Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement in Western Central Asia near Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Together with other finds, the cart models provide a history of how wheeled transportation first emerged in the area and later developed.
"Horsepower" is a common term today, but the ancients had bull-power, followed by camel-power, researcher Lyubov Kircho explained to Discovery News.
"I think that the carts pulled by bulls were mostly used in agriculture in the 4th millennium, when the climate was more humid," said Kircho, who is at the Institute for the History of Material Culture at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
As time went on, Kircho believes the carts carried heavy goods, such as metals, alabaster and the coveted, semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli, over long distances.
"Later, this kind of long distance transport became impossible (due to the region becoming more arid), and the people began to use the camel in the middle of the third millennium B.C.," he added.
The earliest of the cart models he studied had two wheels with shafts linked to a yoke. Visual representations of the associated harness suggest oxen were the primary draft animals.
The carts at this stage were not driven chariot-style, but a person instead could have "directed the bulls from the side," which Kircho says would have been "the easiest way" to control both the cart and its animal pullers.
Carts dating to the second half of the third millennium B.C. gained an additional two wheels.
"The most common type had high walls and two shafts, drawn by a single animal-a camel or, less often, a bull," said Kircho.
The design of the carts, and the behavior of camels, suggests just a single camel pulled each cart.
The carts may help to explain apparent connections between the early residents of what is now Turkmenistan and the ancient people of south-eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan.
Wheeled transportation would have permitted travel and the sharing of goods and ideas. (ANI)