Who invented the wheel?


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
Who invented the modern shopping cart (no axle, 4 independently turning wheels that can pivot 360 degrees and respond to light pressure)?
Aug 2018
I don't know what you mean by "some evidence of wheelbarrows in Ancient Greece/Rome"
Textual evidence.

From wikipedia:

"M. J. T. Lewis surmised the wheelbarrow may have existed in ancient Greece in the form of a one-wheel cart.[18] Two building material inventories for 408/407 and 407/406 BC from the temple of Eleusis list, among other machines and tools, "1 body for a one-wheeler (hyperteria monokyklou)",[19] although there is no archaeological evidence to prove this hypothesis.[20](ὑπερτηρία μονοκύκλου in Greek):

Since dikyklos (δίκυκλος) and tetrakyklos (τετράκυκλος) mean nothing but "two-wheeler" and "four-wheeler," and since the monokyklos (μονόκυκλος) body is sandwiched in the Eleusis inventory between a four-wheeler body and its four wheels, to take it as anything but a one-wheeler strains credulity far beyond breaking point. It can only be a wheelbarrow, necessarily guided and balanced by a man...what does now emerge as certainty is that the wheelbarrow did not, as is universally claimed, make its European debut in the Middle Ages. It was there some sixteen centuries before.​
M. J. T. Lewis admits that the current consensus among technology historians, including Bertrand Gille, Andrea Matthies, and Joseph Needham, is that the wheelbarrow was invented in China around 100 AD.[21] However, Lewis proposes that the wheelbarrow could have also existed in ancient Greece.[9][22] Based on the Eleusis list, Lewis states that it is possible that wheelbarrows were used on Greek construction sites, but admits that archaeological evidence for the wheelbarrow in ancient farming and mining is absent.[9] He surmised that wheelbarrows were not uncommon on Greek construction sites for carrying moderately light loads. He speculates the possibility of wheelbarrows in the Roman Empire and the later Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire, although Lewis concludes that the evidence is scarce, and that "most of this scenario, perforce, is pure speculation."[23] The 4th century Historia Augusta reports emperor Elagabalus to have used a wheelbarrow (Latin: pabillus from pabo, one-wheeled vehicle[24][25]) to transport women in his frivolous games at court.[26] While the present evidence does not indicate any use of wheelbarrows into medieval times, the question of continuity in the Byzantine Empire is still open, due to a lack of research yet.[9]"

Wheelbarrow - Wikipedia


Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
This is one of those things that was probably independently invented in several places... Its not that hard to figure out that it is easier to roll stuff than to carry it.... from there it is a relatively easy step to the wheel


Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
For a while it was generally thought that wheels and wheeled vehicles originated in Mesopotamia, but the evidence doesn't actually support this. What do you think?

“the present evidence for early wheeled transport does not support the traditional belief in the oriental invention of wheel and wagon. Full-size wheels and axles from central and eastern Europe clearly pre-date the earliest wheels from the Near East, and the indirect evidence (models, depictions) does not allow for a temporal gradient indicating diffusion ex oriente. Two alternative hypotheses remain. Innovation could have happened roughly simultaneously, but independently, in several regions (the polycentric model). … Alternatively, there was only one innovation centre. Following Maran (2004b), the late Tripolye culture (around 3700-3500 BC) in the steppe area north-west of the Pontic Sea [in Ukraine] is the most likely candidate for inventing wheeled transport, and the steppe cultures north of the Black Sea show well-documented relations to south-eastern Europe. Further eastward, future research is needed o clarify the contacts between the late Tripolye and Maikop cultures, but the latter may have played a crucial role in transferring the wagon techno-complex to Mesopotamia (Maran 2004b, 438). The deposition of wooden wagons in graves continued with the Yamnaya (Pit Grave) culture (c.3200-2500 BC), which, according to Russian archaeological tradition, is clearly Bronze Age. A considerable number of remarkably well preserved wagon burials in huge mounds (kurgans) have been excavated between Kuban, the lower Don, and the southern Ural mountains (Gej 2004; Tureckij 2004), dating between 3200 and 2500 BC (Tureckij 2004, 197).”

Fowler, C. ed., The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe, 2015, p.113.

“The earliest discoveries of actual wheels in Mesopotamia come from the first half of the third millennium BC - more than half a millennium later than the finds from the Kuban region [in southern Russia].”

Baumer, C., The History of Central Asia: The Age of the Steppe Warriors, 2012, p.90.

“Late Tripolye is the only culture to show evidence of wagons predating 3500 BCE (Burmeister 2004)"

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

‘Proto-Indo-European *kʷékʷlo-bears striking similarity to the words for vehicles in Sumerian gigir, semitic *galgal-, and Kartvelian *grgar. With the putative origin of wheeled vehicles set variously to the Pontic-Caspian, Transcaucasia or to Sumer, we may be witnessing the original word for a wheeled vehicle in four different language families. Furthermore, as the Proto-Indo-European form is built on an Indo-European verbal root *kʷel-, “to turn, to twist”, it is unlikely that the Indo-Europeans borrowed their word from one of the other languages. [...] Sumerian gigir, inscribed in the cuneiform tablets of the third millennium BCE, may indeed provide the earliest written testimony for an originally PIE word.”

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

"The image on the Bronocice pot [from Poland] is the oldest well-dated representation of a four-wheeled vehicle in the world.[4]"

Bronocice pot - Wikipedia

“The earliest evidence for a device whose function corresponds to that of a potter’s wheel form part of the archaeological record of a workshop in Moldova, Varvarovka, dated to around 4000 BC (Gimbutas 1991). Evidence for the use of the potter’s wheel in Mesopotamia is slightly younger (Nissen 1988).

‘Roots of Ancient Greek Civilization: The Influence of Old Europe’, Haarmann 2014.

“Through examining the changes in the ceramic technology of Pre-Cucuteni-Tripolye (Neolithic) through Chalcolithic Cucuteni-Tripolye culture, Ellis is able to show the beginings of ranked society. In the Neolithic pottery is made by individuals or individual households. With the Chalcolithic pottery begins to be painted and the designs and shapes become more standardized through time. As up-draught kilns are used, ceramics can be consistently fired at high temperatures with a slow cool down creating stronger ceramics. Chalcolithic vessels also show evidence of being created on potter's wheels and often in separate pottery workshops.”

‘The Cucuteni-Tripolye culture: study in technology and the origins of complex society’, Linda Ellis, 1984

“The chariot, the first wheeled vehicle designed entirely for speed, first appeared in the graves of the Sintashta culture, in the southern Ural steppes, about 2100 BCE.”

Anthony, D., The Horse, The Wheel, and Language, 2007, Chapter 17.
From what I read and I am studying , specializing in Indoeuropean cultures Those ones invented the wheel and spread all over East and west and south of Eurasia .
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