Serhan Gündüz

Keywords: First Millennium B.C., Kingdoms of Asia Minor, Wheels, Archeology, History


During the first half of the first millennium, the wagons and carts in the kingdoms of Asia Minor were two-wheeled chariots used especially for war, but also for hunting, transportation and competitive sports. These chariots had stoked wheels with six stokes in the 9th and the beginning of the 8th century B.C., while later the number of stokes increased to eight. There were also cases in the 8th century B.C. when wheels with either six or eight stoke were used during the same period. From chariot representations found in Western Anatolia we see that, even if rarely, there were also wheels made with four stokes. In this period the Achaemenids, Elamites and Chaldeans also had carts with very big wheels made of ten, twelve, or even sixteen stokes. The wheels of this age were made with a single thick wooden rim and beginning from the 8th century B.C. of two rims, the outside one thicker than the inner. Among the Assyrians, beginning from the first half of the 8th century B.C., bigger wheels with three rims were also used. The Urart civilisation used wheel rims made of two segments, while the Assyrians' wheel rims could have between three and six segments. In representations of carts of the late Hittite, Phrygian and Western Anatolian civilisations, it is not clear if the rims were made up of segments or not. The wooden wheel rim was covered with a strip of rawhide to prevent its wearing away. It appears that the Ahamenids and some other nations used iron strips nailed on the wheels of their carts for this same purpose. Clips were used in the Urart, Assyrian and Ahamenid civilisations to hold the rims and the segments together. The wheels of this age, both those with six and eight stokes, had a cylindrical hub with independent segments, of a number equal to the number of stokes, the point of each one of which was inserted into these segments. The information we have regarding the manufacturing techniques of the rims, stokes and hub making up the wheel, are based on the theories of various scholars, but there are some points about which all of them agree. Nevertheless we must keep in mind the possibility that in future excavations new information on this subject may be found.