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The wheel is often viewed as the quintessential invention, and was most likely invented in all ancient civilizations, although not always used.

How true is this? From what I know, wheels as means of transportation were invented around the middle east around 4000 BC and spread outward from there. The concept is neither as obvious as one might think, nor as useful (eg without roads slider bars do a better job moving heavy things around).

Where is the evidence of South American wheels?
There are wheeled things we suppose to be TOYS - wheeled dogs in Mexican contexts, wheeled Llamas in Incan. The usual reason given for the failure ot use them on carts is that usable roads would have been too hard to build or too uncommon, which I for one buy for the Andes but not for Central Mexico. --MichaelTinkler

Also - I've added a bit about how wheels transform forces, and I think that when one talks about a wheel as a simple machine it is that that one is referring to, not the transformation between linear and rotary motion (which is really a special case of a friction gear when you think about it). Should this maybe be changed?
Aw, come ON people! Someone must have something to say of the history of the wheel! I had an exceedingly short go, but that was deemed inappropriate even though i framed it rather diffusely. A more fact filled history must be out there somewhere. Or are we inventing the wheel again? :-) --Anders Törlind

I'm all for history and don't object to the circa 4000 BC part at all for 'earliest commonly recognized,' and then let other cultures invent it for themselves in a dependent clause. --MichaelTinkler

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Last edited September 6, 2001 10:37 pm by MichaelTinkler (diff)