World's Oldest Wheel Home after Decade under Restoration
A decade after being discovered in Ljubljana's marshes, what is thought to be the world's oldest found wooden wheel will be displayed at the Ljubljana City Museum tonight along with the appertaining axle.
The wheel, dated 3,200 BC, was found in 2002 at an archaeological site some 20 kilometres south-west of Ljubljana.
It then took over ten years of painstaking work by experts at the laboratory of the Roman-Germanic Museum in Mainz for the exceptional find to be restored.
Having a radius of 70 centimetres, the wheel is made of ash and oak. The aperture for the the 120 cm long axle is square, which means that the wheel and the axis rotated together.
Put on show for a day in 2003, the wheel attracted 3,000 visitors, which is why the museum hopes the present display will be well attended.
The concept of the exhibition is unique in that it links pre-historic heritage and technological and scientific development with culture, art and even space.
The wheel is the focus of a broader story about the prehistoric pile-dwelling culture living in the area, Culture Ministry heritage official Špela Spanžel told reporters ahead of the opening.
Being the national UNESCO World Heritage coordinator, Spanžel also discussed the importance of the serial nomination of the prehistoric pile-dwellings in the area around the Alps for the UNESCO listing.
The first section of the show presents the wheel in its primary context, while the second section focuses on the wheel as one of the most important technological inventions and the third on the symbolic level.
The broad concept of the show is meant to encourage visitors to reflect on the inseparability of science, art and heritage, the author Irena Šinkovec explained.
Running until 20 April 2014, the exhibition is designed in such a way that it can travel to other European cities. A series of accompanying events will include ten smaller monthly displays and a light installation at Ljubljana Castle in the summer.
The public broadcaster RTV Slovenija is shooting a film on the wooden wheel which is to be released in the autumn. Culture programme editor Maja Bahar said the film would show the wheel as the engine of humanity's technological development.
The launch of the show at the City Museum tonight will also be attended by President Borut Pahor and Sunita Williams, the US astronaut of Slovenian descent currently on a visit to Slovenia.