Central Asia, Bactria-Margiana (BMAC), Bronze Age, ca. late 3rd to early 2nd millennium BCE. A four-wheeled bronze cart, flat, with functional wheels and a long bar with a yoke attached to it projecting from one side. All four sides of the cart have guardrails around them. Archaeologists believe that models like this one represent real methods of wheeled transport used in ancient Central Asia. The archaeological site of Altyndepe, which was a proto-urban area in modern day Turkmenistan, contained models of two-wheeled carts from ca. 3000 BCE and four wheeled carts from late in the 3rd century BCE, providing some of our earliest evidence for the use of wheels. Size: 11.4" L x 4" W x 2.6" H (29 cm x 10.2 cm x 6.6 cm)
The earlier, two-wheeled carts were likely pulled by oxen, but four-wheeled carts like this one seem to have been more commonly pulled by camels! The climate during this time was becoming increasingly arid, and the camel became the main draft animal in western Central Asia. What were models like this one used for? They seem to have had a votive purpose, perhaps made to be placed into tombs to replicate the conditions and possessions of life for the deceased. Imagine a cart like this piled high with exotic goods, traveling between the great civilizations of the ancient Near East and northern India.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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