Torres del Paine National Park

Who invented the Wheel?

Invention of the wheel
Image: Pixabay
 Among the most remarkable inventions in history stands out the wheel, a creation that has accompanied us for thousands of years and, to a large extent, changed the course of humanity. Today it would be difficult to imagine life without this important discovery, which has also been the basis for many other advances in human life. 

The wheel is one of the oldest and most revolutionary inventions of mankind, but do you know who invented it and when? Here we tell you the history of this ingenious device that forever changed the way people and objects are transported.

The Wheel in ancient times

According to archaeologists, the wheel originated in the Neolithic period, about 6000 years ago, in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and India. However, it is not known with certainty who was the inventor of the wheel, as it was a gradual and collective process involving different cultures and regions.

The earliest evidence of the existence of the wheel is found on Sumerian clay tablets dating from 3500 BC. These tablets show ox-drawn carts with solid wooden wheels. These wheels were very heavy and inefficient, but they represented a great improvement over the sledges or sliding platforms that were used before.

The first wheels were made from solid wood, a wooden log cut into discs, which were joined with a shaft. The discs were smoothed and drilled in the center to fit the shaft. This system allowed the log to turn on itself thus facilitating the pulling of heavy loads. 

The wheel was not only used for transportation, but also for other activities such as pottery, agriculture, industry and art. Even more, studies indicate that transportation was not its first use, as potter's wheels included it before. The wheel was used to accelerate the turning of the clay or to reduce it, which helped to work it more comfortably and in less time. Only after several centuries would they begin to be used in chariots. 

The wheel was a key element in the development of science, technology and culture in many civilizations.

The Wheel today

Over time, wheels evolved and improved. Spokes began to be used to lighten the weight and increase speed. Swivel axles were introduced to facilitate movement. 

Metal or rubber rims were added to improve strength and traction. Bearings, gears, pulleys and other mechanisms that took advantage of the wheel principle were invented.

Today, the wheel remains a symbol of progress and innovation. A huge number of types of machines require wheels for their operation, from bicycles to space rockets, from watches to wind turbines, the wheel is present in almost all areas of our lives. It is undoubtedly one of the best creations of the human mind.