Some archaeologists claim the wheel was invented in about 50,000BC after the discovery of what looks like a wheel in Mesopotamia. Regardless of this possibility, it must be remembered that Stone Age man wandered over much terrain that would have been unsuitable for the wheel.
When heavy transport was needed, it was to carry huge stones, for which a rudimentary wheel would have broken.
The adaptation of the wheel for transport seems to have been ongoing in Mesopotamia by about 3500BC. Pictograms clearly show wheels being used at this time. Agriculture was well under way, requiring the transport of lighter materials, and people were beginning to live in grasslands, which were flat enough for the wheel to have been of use.
The idea of pulling a wheeled cart was no doubt an adaptation of the idea of pulling a sledge, which had been practiced since Stone Age times. And the wheel proper can be seen as an adaptation of the roller – simple tree trunks. Almost certainly devised to be lighter than the roller, early wheels would have been sawn-off pieces of tree trunk, attached to an axle. Later, three planks of wood would be stuck together and cut into a circle. With the advent of warfare, faster transport was required such as the chariot, and we can see the lighter, spoked wheels appearing at this time.
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