FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A 2,000-Year-Old Depiction Of A Bicycle Found In A Hindu Temple?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 15,000 times purportedly shows a 2,000-year-old stone carving depicting a bicycle at the Panchavarneswara Temple in India.

Verdict: False

The image shows part of a palace door created by an African sculptor in the 1900s. The carving is neither in India nor 2,000 years old.

Fact Check:

The Panchavarneswara Temple is a Hindu temple located in the Indian city of Tiruchirapalli, according to The Hindu. The temple dates back to the 9th century, the outlet reported.

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a stone carving found within that temple that appears to show a man riding a bicycle. “Did you know? This is 2,000 year old bicycle from Panchavarnaswamy Temple,” reads text included in the image. (RELATED: Does This Video Show Holi Fireworks At India’s Atal Tunnel?)

While the circumstances of the bicycle‘s invention are a matter of historical debate, there is no evidence the vehicle existed prior to the 18th century, much less 2,000 years ago. The Smithsonian states the first bicycle appeared in Paris in 1791 but notes that no one person can be credited with its invention.

An internet search reveals the stone carving featured in the Facebook post is not actually a 2,000-year-old sculpture from Panchavarneswara Temple, but rather a 20th century sculpture found on the door of a palace in Nigeria. An image of the entire door can be found on the website of the Quai Branly Museum, an art museum in Paris dedicated to non-Western art. The image’s caption on the website explains the art adorns the palace door and was created by Areogun Osi-Ilorin, an African sculptor, in the early 20th century, well after the invention of the bicycle.

It is worth mentioning that the Panchavarneswara Temple does feature a carving of a person riding a bicycle, according to The Quint. However, the outlet concluded the rumors of the sculpture being 2,000 years old were false, citing researchers who suggested it may have been added to the temple during renovations done in the 1920s.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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