till now, it is still a mystery as to who invented the wheel and
when the wheel was invented. According to archaeologists, it was
probably invented in around 8,000 B.C. in Asia. The oldest wheel
known however, was discovered in Mesopotamia and probably dates
back to 3,500 B.C.
wheel was believed to have been made by the Sumerians. It was made
of planks of wood joined together. The picture below briefly describes
the stages of development of the wheel.
one: Early men placed rollers beneath heavy objects so that
they could be moved easily.
two: Early men began to place runners under a heavy load, which
they discovered would make it easier for the load to drag. This
was the invention of the sledge.
three: Men began to combine the roller and the sledge. As the
sledge moved forward over the first roller, a second roller was
placed under the front end to carry the load when it moved off the
first roller. A model of a sledge with such rollers is in the Smithsonian
four: Soon, men discovered that the rollers which carried the
sledge became grooved with use. They soon discovered that these
deep grooves actually allowed the sledge to advance a greater distance
before the next roller was needed to come on!
in Stage five: The rollers were changed into wheels. In the
process of doing so, wood between the grooves of the roller were
cut away to form an axle and wooden pegs were fastened to the runners
on each side of the axle. When the wheels turn, the axle turned
too in the space between the pegs. The first wooden cart was thus
six: A slight improvement was made to the cart. This time, instead
of using pegs to join the wheels to the axle, holes for the axle
were drilled through the frame of the cart. Axle and wheels were
now made separately.
wheel was furthered improved on later by the Egyptians, who made
wheels with spokes, which could be found on Egyptian chariots of
around 2000 BC. Over in Ancient India, chariots with spoked wheels
dating back to around 1500 B.C. were also discovered. The Greeks
too, adopted the idea of wheel-making from the Egyptians and made
further improvements to it. Later, during the time of the Roman
Empire, the Romans too engaged themselves in wheel-making and produced
the greatest variety of wheeled vehicles. They had chariots for
war, hunting, and racing, two-wheeled farm carts, covered carriages,
heavy four-wheeled freight wagons and passenger coaches.
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. What do you think are the advantages of
using rubber tyres instead of wooden wheels?
wagon on wooden wheels.
Chariots belonging to the Aryans of ancient India
A modern cart which uses rubber tyres instead.
A Another Example of a vehicle using rubber tyres
Car on pneumatic rubber tyres