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The invention of the wheel is considered to be a milestone in human history. It led to the development of wheeled vehicles and the wheel became a basic tool of civilization.

The wheel was invented independently in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and ancient Egypt, as well as in India, China and Japan. There is also evidence of invention of wheeled vehicles in the Americas prior to European contact.

The first known use of wheeled transport was by chariots in Mesopotamia around 3200 BC. This allowed for much faster travel than on foot or even with horses. The earliest incarnation of the wheel was probably a solid wooden disc used as a potter’s wheel, though it may have had spokes originally made from tree branches or other natural materials.

The solid disc was replaced by a spoked version, which reduced weight and increased strength. The first known depiction of a spoked wheel comes from the Sumerian city-state Uruk (modern day Iraq) around 3100 BC on an alabaster vase depicting an oxcart drawn by four oxen that were harnessed by poles inserted into their yokes.

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Last modified: October 30, 2022

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