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Feb 20, 2016 03:18 PM EST

Bronze Age Wheel an 'Unprecedented' Find for its Size, Age, Wholeness

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A team of archaeologists digging near Britain's premier Bronze Age site unearthed the oldest and largest wheel from the era.

According to BBC News, the wheel is about 3,000 years old and the researchers dubbed the site where it was found as "Britain's Pompeii." Historic England, co-funders of the project, referred to the find as "unprecedented" not only for its size and age, but for its remarkable degree of completeness.

"This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain," Historic England Chief Executive Duncan Wilson said in a statement. "The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago."

The University of Cambridge headed the excavation at "Britain's Pompeii," a site formally known as Must Farm. Researchers are compiling their knowledge of the area to figure out what the wheel's purpose was.

"We're here in the middle of the Fens, a very wet environment, so the biggest question we've got to answer at the moment is 'Why on earth is there a wheel in the middle of this really wet river channel?'" Chris Wakefield, an archaeologist on the project, told BBC News. "The houses are built over a river and within those deposits is sitting a wheel - which is pretty much the archetype of what you'd expect to have on dry land - so it's very, very unusual.

"In the Bronze Age horses are quite uncommon. It's not until the later period of the Middle Iron Age that they become more widespread, so aside from this very exciting discovery of the wheel, we've also got potentially other related aspects that are giving us even more questions."

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