Ancient Mesopotamia Wheel: Did They Invent The Modern Motor Vehicle?

The first known ancient Mesopotamia wheel prototype made of wood for chariots

Share this article

The Mesopotamian civilization is the world's oldest civilization that has been documented and also the first civilization to have invented the earliest wheels.

Mesopotamia, which is now part of Iraq, is located in the center of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The culture is most renowned for its wealth, city life, extensive literature, mathematics, and astronomy.

Mesopotamia in southwest Asia was compatible with the climate and geology of the area to host the dawn of human civilization. Many key inventions that impacted the world occurred during its history, including the concept of time and algebra.

Moving wheeled vehicles takes far less effort than dragging the same weight. Although the idea of wheeled transportation may have originated with the use of logs as rollers, the earliest recorded wheels were wooden discs made up of three carved flat planks joined by transverse struts.

The first wheel was invented by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia and that were later utilized to leverage the three power sources prevalent in the Middle Ages: animals, water, and wind.

A wheel was a flat disc composed of solidified clay that was weighty. It was spun horizontally on an axis to assist the potter to mold wet clay into uniformly shaped jars and bowls.

Now, this clay-covered wheel was not just inverted and stuck on the vehicle to make it a wheel. Instead, the wheel was developed over many years until it became a viable technique of transporting large goods from one site to another.

In addition, the Sumerians were the first to develop a written language. Archaeologists and historians have credited them with the creation of the wheel based on extensive analyses of their writings.

Continue reading this article for more information and fun facts about the ancient Mesopotamia wheel and its history. After reading this article about the ancient Mesopotamia wheel, you may also look at other fun fact articles like ancient Irish weapons as well as ancient Greek weapons.

What was the wheel used for in ancient Mesopotamia?

By around 3,500 B.C., the ancient Mesopotamians began employing the wheel. They threw pots on the potter's wheel and put wheels on carts to move people and goods. In the early city-states, this invention had an impact on pottery technology, trade, and warfare.

Carts and combat chariots began to use the wheel. Without additional innovation, the wheel would not have accomplished much for humanity. Early types of mobility, such as carts and chariots, were made possible by the combination of the wheel and axle.

The original carts had wheels and axles that turned in the same direction. The sled was secured with wooden pegs so that it did not move while resting on the rollers. The fixed axle, which did not turn but was permanently connected to the cart frame, was invented shortly after. Fixed axles allowed for more stable carts that could better turn turns.

Why was the wheel invented?

The wheel is often considered the most important invention in history, as it not only revolutionized transportation but also agriculture and industry. It wasn't long until the wheels began to revolve around a fixed axle. Wheels with spokes were lighter than those without, allowing vehicles to travel more quickly.

The wheel was utilized by the ancient Sumer to transport huge loads across vast distances. The wheel was also utilized in battle chariots. They were able to get into battle faster because of the wheel. The earliest wheel discovered in an archaeological dig comes from Mesopotamia, and it dates back to roughly 3500 BC.

The wheel was originally designed to aid in the transportation of heavy loads from one site to another, but it quickly found its way into a variety of other applications. The potter's wheel was invented in Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C. In ancient Mesopotamia, potter's wheels helped people to produce finer pots. The wheel was eventually used for military purposes. Around 2500 B.C., the chariot was built. Horses pulled the chariots, which had four wheels. The chariot's primary purpose was not for military purposes, but rather to provide a more convenient mode of conveyance. The wheel sparked the development of a slew of other incredible innovations in future civilizations.

What was the Mesopotamia wheel made of?

Wide slabs of wood from large trunked trees were used by the Mesopotamians. They would cut off a large circle in the shape of a wheel as soon as they found the wood. After that, they'd cut holes where the axles needed to go with metal tools. This is how the Mesopotamian wheel was created.

Simple wooden discs with a hole for the axle were used in the beginning. Horizontal tree trunk slices were used to make the first wheel. A wheel formed from a horizontal slice of a tree trunk will tend to be inferior to one made from spherical pieces of longitudinal boards due to the irregular structure of wood.

How did the wheel impact Mesopotamia?

The wheel was a game-changing invention. It made getting around a lot easier. People could transport vast amounts of crops, grain, or water by attaching wheeled carriages to horses or other animals. Chariots, of course, had an impact on how wars were waged.

The Mesopotamian civilization's invention of the wheel had an impact on both the ancient and modern worlds. Because it made travel simpler, advanced agriculture, simplified pottery manufacture, and broadened various ideas in combat style, the wheel had the largest impact on ancient Mesopotamia.

Wheels had a significant impact on human life. They changed transportation and made many various types of work considerably easier.

The Mesopotamian wheel had a significant influence on both its citizens and other civilizations. Mesopotamia employed the wheel to make pottery around 3500 BC. Mesopotamia gained an advantage over other civilizations as a result of this. Other civilizations began to notice Mesopotamia because of their wonderful pottery wares, which led them to wonder what else this wheel could be used for. The purpose of the Mesopotamian wheel was transformed by these civilizations. The Mesopotamian wheel, for example, was employed in horse-drawn chariots in Ancient Rome. Later, it was used for travel and cargo ships.

The evolutions of wheels from Ancient Mesopotamia to modern-day.

Mechanics And Functions

While the wheel's design may appear simple to us today, the engineering necessary to create one was quite difficult. The wheel must have an axle around which it turns. This is accomplished by placing the axle in the wheel's center to optimize possible motion. To reduce friction, the axle and hole alignment must be perpendicular.

In addition, the axle should be as thin as possible to lower its surface area while yet supporting the load. Only the friction between the inner wheel and the axle remains to be overcome. The less friction the system needs to overcome, the smoother the inner surface of the wheel and the outer edge of the axle are.

If the wheel radius is large enough in comparison to the imperfections, a wheel might also provide advantages when crossing irregular surfaces. The wheel is not a mechanical device by itself, but when it is attached to an axle and combined with a bearing, it becomes a wheel and axle, which is one of the simple machines. A wheel and axle are exemplified by a driven wheel. Wheels are around 6000 years older than driven wheels, which are an outgrowth of using round logs as rollers to transport heavy objects—a process that dates back so far in prehistory that it hasn't been dated.

The Sumer people carved flat wooden planks from trees and joined them together in the shape of a log by chiseling and rolling the wood to make it curved. This is how the first wooden wheels were made.

'The Sledge' was the name of their next creation. A straight crosspiece joined the two front edges runners, strengthening them and serving as a grip for pulling and guiding the sled. As a result, the Sumerians chose to merge their heavy roller wheel and sled ideas by mounting the sled on top of the rollers.

The Sumerians subsequently interfered by cutting the grooved roller, eventually resulting in a more efficient wheel that made rolling on uneven ground simpler.

Because moving things this manner was exhausting and required a large number of people, they connected four pegs, two on each side of the sled, to lighten the load. The 'axle' rolled between the pegs, keeping the sled on top of the axle in the proper position.

They removed the pegs and replaced them with a piece of wood that hung under the wagon on either side. These sections were drilled with holes so that the plank could readily roll into them.

The Sumerians eventually built a chariot with two wheels that could be drawn by a horse or donkey. The wheel's design was adopted by the surrounding civilizations, who customized it to their own needs.

The Wheel Today

The Industrial Revolution began with the creation of the Mesopotamian wheel. Railroads, steam engines, and industries were all made possible by the discovery of the wheel. This is why urban civilization continues to grow every day. One of the most important inventions of its day was the Mesopotamian Wheel.

The invention of the wheel resulted in numerous improvements in man's life. Early man-made wheeled carts for easier and faster transportation. On pottery wheels, people produced beautiful pottery in a variety of shapes and sizes. Later, the wheel was also used for cotton spinning and weaving.

The wheel is widely recognized as humankind's most crucial invention, enabling greater travel, commodities transit, and, eventually, motorsport.

Modern tires are made up of synthetic rubber, natural rubber, cloth, and thread, as well as other chemical components. They have a traction tread and a body that gives stability. Tires today are mostly donut-shaped pneumatic inflated structures with ropes and threads enclosed in rubber and filled with compressed air to produce an inflatable cushion. Automobiles, bicycles, motorbikes, lorries, construction equipment, airplanes, and even wheeled toys for that matter, all use tires.

Wire spokes connect the rims of wire wheels to their hubs. These threads stretch and act mechanically in the same manner that flexible strings do. Wire wheels are found on nearly all bicycles and motorbikes. Wheel construction is the term used to describe the process of assembling wire wheels.

A trywheel is a set of three wheels attached to a y-shaped frame that can be used to navigate stairwells or difficult terrain. External force or built-in motors can be used to drive these.

The hub is the center of the wheel and is where the spokes meet. It usually houses a bearing. A hubless wheel does not have a central hub. The hub is nearly as large as the wheel. The axle is hollow, and it follows the wheel with extreme precision.

Spoked wheels are one of the many rods that emerge from a wheel's center and connect the hub to the traction surface's round surface. A spoked wheel was carved with a specific instrument called a spokeshave to make the radial elements of a wagon wheel.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for the ancient Mesopotamia wheel then why not take a look at ancient china trades or ancient compass?


Written By

Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

Was this article helpful?

Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.