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Fascinating facts about the invention of the Wheel by Mesopotamian's in c3500 BC.. WHEEL
The wheel is probably the most important mechanical invention of all time. Nearly every machine built since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution involves a single, basic principle embodied in one of mankind’s truly significant inventions. It’s hard to imagine any mechanized system that would be possible without the wheel or the idea of a symmetrical component moving in a circular motion on an axis. From tiny watch gears to automobiles, jet engines and computer disk drives, the principle is the same. Photo courtesy www.ohm.com

Based on diagrams on ancient clay tablets, the earliest known use of this essential invention was a potter’s wheel that was used at Ur in Mesopotamia (part of modern day Iraq} as early as 3500 BC. The first use of the wheel for transportation was probably on Mesopotamian chariots in 3200 BC. It is interesting to note that wheels may have had industrial or manufacturing applications before they were used on vehicles.

A wheel with spokes first appeared on Egyptian chariots around 2000 BC, and wheels seem to have developed in Europe by 1400 BC without any influence from the Middle East. Because the idea of the wheel appears so simple, it’s easy to assume that the wheel would have simply "happened" in every culture when it reached a particular level of sophistication. However, this is not the case. The great Inca, Aztec and Maya civilizations reached an extremely high level of development, yet they never used the wheel. In fact, there is no evidence that the use of the wheel existed among native people anywhere in the Western Hemisphere until well after contact with Europeans.

Even in Europe, the wheel evolved little until the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, with the coming of the Industrial Revolution the wheel became the central component of technology, and came to be used in thousands of ways in countless different mechanisms.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Transportation History   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
100 Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1993) / Bluewood Books 
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.

Eyewitness: Invention
by Lionel Bender / Hardcover: 64 pages / DK Publishing Inc; 1st edition (June 1, 2000
A unique and fascinating introduction to the amazing variety of inventions, both ancient and modern. From simple machines such as wheels, gears, pulleys, and levers,
The Engines of Our Ingenuity : An Engineer Looks at Technology and Culture
by John H. Lienhard / Paperback: 272 pages / Oxford University Press, USA (December 4, 2003)
Based on episodes from Lienhard's widely broadcast public radio series, this intriguing set of essays begins with a simple premise: more than we often care to admit, our lives are shaped by our machines. Fleshing out this proposition, Lienhard ransacks 2,000 years of scientific and technological history, cobbling together a quirky biography of the strange being he calls homo technologicus.
Wheels: A Pictorial History
by Edwin Tunis / Paperback: 96 pages / Johns Hopkins University Press; (September 1, 2002)
Nothing like the wheel exists in nature; it may be one of humanity's greatest inventions. In Wheels, writer and illustrator Edwin Tunis traces the development of the wheel over 5,000 years, his accurate drawings and lucid text depicting the human victory over space and inertia.
1000 Inventions & Discoveries
by Roger Bridgman / Hardcover: 256 pages / Dorling Kindersley Publishing; (August 1, 2002)
Profiles of the famous (and not-so-famous) men and women who have had "Eureka!" moments, a running timeline which puts the inventions and discoveries in historical context, and feature boxes highlighting key topics make this chronologically ordered volume a must-have for school and home learning.
Inventors: From Da Vinci to Biro (Out of Print)
Struan Reid, Patrica Fara,, Ross Watton (Illustrator)  / Paperback - 48 pages (1994) / EDC Pub.
This book looks at the men and women whose ideas and creations have changed our lives. Brief descriptions of hundreds of inventions from the earliest to the computer age.

ON THE WEB:
The Evolution of the Wheel
The true beginnings of the wheel date back possibly as far as the Paleolithic era (15,000 to 750,000 years ago). This wheel was nothing more than a log, laid alongside others, which was placed beneath a load to be moved.
Invention of the Wheel at ThinkQuest
Today, we see that the wheel has indeed undergone a drastic transformation from a simple one made of wood to the pneumatic rubber tyres that we see on vehicles today.
Invention of the Wheel
The wheel was almost certainly invented in Mesopotamia—present-day Iraq. Estimates on when this may have occurred range from 5500 to 3000 BC, with most guesses closer to a 4000 BC date.
The Wheel Revisited
Continuous rotation was the conceptual hurdle. Two primary examples, the vehicle wheel and the potter's wheel, arose about the same time. Article by John H. Lienhard.
Wheel Invention
All the inventions that have ever been created weren’t just something that was already drawn out on a piece of paper for the inventors. They had to think. They had to imagine the masterpiece before it was even a physical object.
A Funny Evolution of the Wheel
I'm very excited to announce a new invention of mine. I call it "The Wheel," and I think it could really revolutionize transportation. From outward appearances the Wheel may seem very simple, yet I think you'll find that it has the potential to be used in countless ways. Contributed by Keith Cronin.
 

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised March, 2005.
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