wheel. Through the many millennia of the Paleolithic period and the Neolithic period no use of the wheel was known to humans. Its use was not known to the Native Americans until the Europeans introduced it. In the Old World it came into use in the Bronze Age, when oxen and horses were first used as draft animals and wheeled vehicles were devised. Wheels for vehicles were at first solid wooden disks; spoked wheels were introduced c.2700 B.C. The potter's wheel was invented in the Bronze Age, earlier pottery being made, like that of the Native Americans, without the use of the wheel. See gear; tire; wheel and axle.
See R. J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology (1955); E. Tunis, Wheels (1955); W. Owen et al., ed., Wheels (1972).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.