Technology has enabled scientists to figure out how a 6,000-year-old amulet resembling a wheel was created.
The copper object was found decades ago in present-day Pakistan, and it has been traced back to an innovative Neolithic settlement called the Mehrgarh.
As the Washington Post reports, researchers gained a unique view into the artifact with a method known as full-field photoluminescence which causes electrons to activate and emit light. The team used this technique to measure different factors such as the type of metal used, the levels of oxygen that seeped in, and the temperature at which the substance melted and set.
Based on these results, researchers ultimately determined that the artifact was likely made through lost-wax casting where wax and clay are used to make a mold for metal objects.
As such, the amulet has become the earliest known piece made from this method. The team thinks the small piece may have had some significance at the time but have not been able to confirm its true purpose.