Who invented the wheel?

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,279
Albuquerque, NM
#13
When Europeans arrived in the New World none of the native inhabitants used wheels, other than on small toys. The use of circles and other common geometric figures, some quite sophisticated, tell us that at least in some American Indian tribes had complex societies. Roads, huge masonry buildings & monuments were made in Meso-America comparable to what was being done in Egypt about 5,000 years ago. We believe that the introduction of the chariot was about the same time, though wheeled carts for more utilitarian purposes almost certainly existed. There is dispute over whether wheels originated in Mesopotamia or in Eastern Europe. If the inhabitants of the New World had developed the wheel we might ask if they might have borrowed the technology. Recent evidence suggests that the aboriginal inhabitants share a common origins in N.E. Siberia, and alternative routes have been put forth. If those conjectures are correct then the Meso-Americans developed similar monumental tendencies as those in the Ancient Near East independently. I know that isn't on point, but a bit of a tie-in on some thoughts I'm having related to my interest in the Indians of the American South West.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,598
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#14
The real question about the invention of the wheel is why in some regions of the planet local populations didn't develop a logistic usage of the wheel.

There would be an explanation ...

Mountain regions or flat lands? I live in the middle and really near to high mountains. It's not so intuitive and natural to trust rolling objects on the mountains ... gravity tends to make them go downhill. On the other hand, in a flat land it's the vegetation to make it easy or not to think to use a wheel. Jungle doesn't suggest to use wheels.

Like humans all around the world built pyramids, they knew that round objects roll. But with mountains and jungle you need a Jeep, not a chariot.

Then, there is who underlines that the lack of suitable animals [like horses] made it even more difficult for Native Americans to develop a logistic usage of the wheel. And actually it's difficult to imagine a chariot with buffaloes or alpacas ...
 
Likes: macon
Aug 2018
439
london
#15
The real question about the invention of the wheel is why in some regions of the planet local populations didn't develop a logistic usage of the wheel.

There would be an explanation ...

Mountain regions or flat lands? I live in the middle and really near to high mountains. It's not so intuitive and natural to trust rolling objects on the mountains ... gravity tends to make them go downhill. On the other hand, in a flat land it's the vegetation to make it easy or not to think to use a wheel. Jungle doesn't suggest to use wheels.

Like humans all around the world built pyramids, they knew that round objects roll. But with mountains and jungle you need a Jeep, not a chariot.

Then, there is who underlines that the lack of suitable animals [like horses] made it even more difficult for Native Americans to develop a logistic usage of the wheel. And actually it's difficult to imagine a chariot with buffaloes or alpacas ...
Good point.

“Johannes Renger (2004) and Josef Maran (2004b) observe that the marshlands of Sumer were not favorable terrain for wheeled vehicles; sledges would have worked in ordinary life much better than wheeled vehicles in marshy Mesopotamia, and indeed stayed in use there long after the Late Uruk period. ...

Maran (2004) suggests the Late Tripolye culture [Ukraine] as the most likely place of origin for wheeled vehicles. ... Between 4000 and 3400 BCE, the Late Tripolye culture was the most thriving and populous agricultural community in the the entire Copper Age world... These agriculturalist people needed transport, whether by sledge of wheeled wagon. The local forest-steppe provided enough trees for the construction of primitive solid wheels but also sufficient open and level fields for the movement of wheeled traffic, unlike the forested and hilly landscape that covered most of Europe. ...The location of the Late Tripolye culture makes sense as the geographical center for the spread of the wheeled vehicles; it is also very near the middle of the IE-speaking area"

Parpola, A., The Roots of Hinduism, the Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization, 2015, p.43
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,209
Netherlands
#16
The real question about the invention of the wheel is why in some regions of the planet local populations didn't develop a logistic usage of the wheel.

There would be an explanation ...

Mountain regions or flat lands? I live in the middle and really near to high mountains. It's not so intuitive and natural to trust rolling objects on the mountains ... gravity tends to make them go downhill. On the other hand, in a flat land it's the vegetation to make it easy or not to think to use a wheel. Jungle doesn't suggest to use wheels.

Like humans all around the world built pyramids, they knew that round objects roll. But with mountains and jungle you need a Jeep, not a chariot.

Then, there is who underlines that the lack of suitable animals [like horses] made it even more difficult for Native Americans to develop a logistic usage of the wheel. And actually it's difficult to imagine a chariot with buffaloes or alpacas ...
Another point is that transport by water was always more efficient than by land.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,209
Netherlands
#18
Depends on the situation.
Well obviously, but in general you could transport more and quicker by water. It isn't a coincidence that the oldest boat that was found dates back 10k years (in Holland no less). The oldest wheel only max 6k (in former Yugoslavia).
 
Aug 2018
439
london
#19
Well obviously, but in general you could transport more and quicker by water. It isn't a coincidence that the oldest boat that was found dates back 10k years (in Holland no less). The oldest wheel only max 6k (in former Yugoslavia).
It’s not really an either-or situation though is it. Wheeled transport is an addition to waterborne transport, an added benefit.
 
Dec 2011
2,291
#20
It’s not really an either-or situation though is it. Wheeled transport is an addition to waterborne transport, an added benefit.
In many places I can see that it would be either-or, to the people at the time. If, for example, all your fertile land and all your towns adjoin a broad river, people might be quite content with using boats for any needed transport of people or goods, and regard travel over land as very much a second-best option, only done for very short distances, hence might not try to develop technologies to make it easier.
 

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