The wheel, something we take for granted and seems so logical, but somebody had to invent it.
I think the idea of the wheel came about the first time someone saw a rock roll down a hillside.
The step that made the wheel useful, was when someone attached it to an axle. Therefore, the real question should be, when did they first come up with the axle?
The first recorded use of this combination was as a potter’s wheel, which appeared in Mesopotamia around 4000BC. It was not until around 3100 in Ur, also in Mesopotamia, that there are records of wheeled vehicles. Yes, amazingly it took nearly 300 years for the wheel to go from the potter to chariots!
These early wheels were simple wooden disks with a hole for the axle. Some of the earliest wheels were made from horizontal slices of tree trunks. However, this was uneven, so they moved to wheels made from rounded pieces of wood.
Fascinatingly, the Ancient Greeks created wheelbarrows that became first-class labour-saving devices, and paid for themselves within days.
What is interesting is that the development of wheels for modes of transport slowed, initially, in the Middle East, because wheels were being replaced by camels as a means of transport, then, of course, everyone went to horses.
Why? Because they could go anywhere and didn’t need roads!
This led to those superb roads, built by the Romans, all over Europe, falling into decay as people realised that horses could go anywhere, and the roads didn’t require upkeep.
It took until the middle ages when the growth and greater use of carriages meant that roads had to be more than just tracks.
So, who invented the wheel?
Isn’t History Fun?