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I mean, to be fair, “a floaty thing” is more intuitive than “a rolly thing”
Rolling thing is easy to come up with. The concept of an axle is a bit more of a conceptual stretch and people tend to leave that out when talking about the invention of the wheel.
Think about how busy your life is and then having to produce all of your food, shelter, clothing and protecting yourself from competing animals/human groups. Floating and using the force of the wind while expending less energy than by rowing would have been useful to tribal groups near water but once we advanced to agricultural groups a wheel and axle combination on a cart instead of just dragging a sled would have been much more useful. Many native nomadic groups in the Americas were dragging sleds without wheels until recently. When you are growing crops it's a must have.
Not just compared to a sled, but think of a wheel without an axle - it helps reduce effort (especially with large loads) to have basically a log underneath your big (hopefully flat!) object but you need to keep moving them in front and that's a lot of extra work. The axle does three significant things that a "wheel" on its own doesn't do:
Also how are you going to mount a wheel without an axle?
A round log is the pretty much the simplest form of a wheel. You have a heavy object? Get a bunch of round logs under it and push until one pops out the back and then put that log in front of the heavy object. Then repeat. Wheels are great on their own. As long as your load isn't at 50+ton rock you can just use a wheel and axle and save yourself all of that labor of moving the logs.
His Dark Materials trilogy dealt with this, creatures that evolved to use giant seed pods as wheels on naturally occurring pyroclastic flows. The author made their skeletons diamond-framed and gave them trunks/tails that could fit into the seed pods (which oozed a natural oil for lubrication) and honestly, it's the most realistic "natural" depiction of an animal using wheels without a separate axle "tool." But really interesting read.
I read this! About 14 years ago when I was 11 or something. Thanks for reminding me of it!
I read it about 3 months ago I was 34 or something.
Didn't they drive their claws into the pods to serve as axles? I think they just used their trunks to manipulate the pods and put them in position.
Such a shame that the movie adaptation of the first book was so terrible and (deservedly) didn't spawn any sequels. I think BBC is working on a TV adaptation though.
my head just exploded 🤯
Domesticated animals (legs) also had the advantage over wheels almost everywhere before there were smooth and well-maintained roads.
Ah animals. Our convenient biological robots.
I believe I read something about a central American society not even bothering with wheels because they had to transport things over the mountains so much. Its a vague notion that someone else hopefully can fill in.
Yes, Mesoamerican and Incan civilizations had wheels on their children’s toys. They understood the concept. However, they predominantly lived in mountainous terrain where wheels would have been nonsense until modern roads came about. The Incas had llamas as pack animals anyway, which are perfect for climbing.
Think about how busy your life is and then having to produce all of your food, shelter, clothing and protecting yourself from competing animals/human groups.
It's worth noting archaeologists can directly determine the degree of regional hardship faced by a given society based simply on how much artwork that society produced.
'Native American Tribes' are renown for the unique and iconic art styles seen throughout the Americas, but a lot of people don't realize how regional hardship effected local art and culture.
I live in Central Canada, and my family comes from Swampy Cree tribes from near Hudson's Bay - my tribe has very little artwork to show. Craftworks from my tribe are considered very rare, because my ancestors were simply too busy struggling to survive to sit around whittling nick knacks. Swampy Cree lived in brutal conditions, where it's a constant daily struggle just to survive. Great Plains Cree, on the other hand, had relatively easy lives, and as a result it's not uncommon to find Plains Cree artwork.
David Anthony's Horse, Wheel and Language is a fascinating read.
No one knows where the wheel originated, probably Mesopotamia however some of the oldest preserved wheels come from the Balkans (in bogs) and the earliest depiction is on a clay cup from around Poland.
The interesting thing is that when the wheel did appear it spread everywhere with a couple of hundred years. Certain conditions are needed such as metal working and a particular level of carpentry because the axle has to be round. I would say that in all likely hood the sled came first. In many climates where there is snow for many of the winter months it makes sense to use sleds for transport and hauling. (The North American indigenous prairie people used travois or simple sleds)
in all likely hood the sled came first
I can't think of a reasonable basis for it not to be first given its nothing but a dragging implement and we drag stuff automatically to move things anyway from logs to unconscious people. What technology could possibly go into the sled itself beyond enhancing it? The base technology of a sled is effectively to have one and some means to pull it.
Dont forget, you can always walk/run towards somethig you want on land (efficency is secondary) but you always need a boat to get something from an island.
Wheels also require a *lot* more infrastructure to be useful. You need to come up with the concept of at least semi-permanent roads through land that is flat / cleared. (Yes, I know they were used in battle on rough terrain as well) You need to have an animal capable of pulling something. You need to figure out how to harness it so that it doesn't choke out while pulling. You need axels, as you said.
Whereas a basic boat requires little more than noticing wood floats and strapping more of it together to make bigger floats until you have a boat.
edit- The infrastructure and animal problem is the number one contender for why the wheel was not heavily utilized in the pre-contact American Civilizations.
right, because imo rollers are definitely wheels and they have been used for building things longer than sailing, but rolling something over a log isnt anything like a wheel and axle.
"floaty things" help cross water that otherwise is an effectively impassible barrier. Wheeled vehicles make land travel better/easier. Regardless of relative obviousness of the solutions, one is an obvious problem in need of a solution, and the other isn't so much.
You need some pretty advanced carpentry to get the axle right too.
You don’t see a stick floating in a puddle and think the roundness is inherently useful
But you could roll a rock down a hill and think it might be an efficient way of moving things...
How make hole in rock?
Hit other rock against rock.
Why use lot word when few word do trick?
Is it though? Compared to legs?
Wheels don't do well at hills, rivers or woods.
So to go somewhere with wheels, you'd need a road, and to build a road, you'd need to go somewhere first so you'd know that it was worth the time and effort to build a road there.
Indeed. How to make wheels seem really fucking cool: Be a king of a city state in the flat plains of Mesopotamia and dash around the battlefield on a chariot flinging spears and escaping before anyone can retaliate.
wheels arent only used in carts. they're also useful in pullies, fly wheels, mills, etc.
All that is a level of technology that only comes with infrastructure that would already have mandated the development of roads or coincided with it. You can backwards engineer technology in a way that was never used, like Mr. Primitive Technology using a turbine in a way nobody really did in the context of what he's doing but those things only come around when there's sufficient reason to develop them. Its why the industrial revolution was a thing, because we reached a tipping point where we were developing means to save labour to keep up with the resources and economy and labour we were using more and more. you could easily apply lots of industrial revolution era tech and knowledge to ancient Greece but you wouldn't have any reason for it to develop back then.
lol you really think they didnt have mills and pullies before the industrial revolution?
There is a theory (with no archeological evidence) that ancient peoples used greased wooden railways and sleds to move heavy objects, such as the stones for Stonehenge.
As it relates to making a boat, the roundness is inherently unuseful
Floaty thing doesn't mean sailing, but I guess if it's breezy it's not a huge leap to hold a piece if fabric in the air and then improve from there.
Also people have been rolling things for much longer than they've been using wheels. Wheel means it is stationary relative to the rest of the object while it rotates, so you need an axle, etc. It's actually pretty complicated compared to sailing.
If the wind is strong enough, I will push your boat or raft or whatever just by acting on your body. I think that it was easy to discover that standing up and spreading your arms will make it push more, and standing in clothes or holding a big leaf/piece of cloth will have an even bigger effect. After this, you just have to create a thing that holds those leaves for you and you're done.
Traditionally while rafting down large rivers, a shelter was erected. The effect of the wind on the covered framing of the shelter would be well noted, whether animal hides, early cloth, large leaves, or just wood planks are used.
So if I'm a betting man, and I am, I'd bet that sails predate proper boats, and that they are the extension of the effects observed from trying to get out of the wind, sun, and rain while on water.
Raft camping is absolutely still a modern thing.
But it is an old thing too:
Almost certainly an ancient thing.
Rolling stuff on logs is the predecessor to the axle, so that's arguably a wheel without an axle, and it has its own problems while still being a significant improvement over skids and dragging big stuff.
And nothing is in your way on water. Land transport needs some sort of flat surface. Those are few and far between in nature. That's why we have roads, but those also need to be maintained. In Europe it wasn't until the Iron age before we had long, quality, and permanent roads, and even then sea transport was preferable over long distances, especially for cargo.
Here "sailing" specifically refers to floating on an object with a sail. I am pretty sure humans have been floating on things in water since before we became humans, the invention of the sail came later though.
What kind of boats would they have used to get to Australia?
We may never know.
Archaeologically, there is a huge bias toward dugout canoes because solid wood preserves better than bark/animal skin wrapped over a wood frame.
But let's say they were dugout canoes with outriggers. We're pretty sure that these are what was used about 8,000 years ago by humans that colonized the Caribbean (they left the Orinoco river valley in Venezuela and followed the "arc" hopping each island), so it's plausible.
And when I say "dugout canoe", keep in mind there are some fucking enormous ones---you're really only limited by the size of the tree. The climate at the time allowed for rainforest in some places at the edge of the Sunda shelf, implying you could get a very big tree. Even in tropical dry forest, huge trees can always be found beside streams and rivers.
To make a canoe even somewhat seaworthy, it needs an outrigger. You can almost guarantee they had them.
And really, the island-hopping skills and boat craftsmanship wouldn't be much of a surprise. By that time, modern humans had trekked across the coasts of the Indian ocean----probably had a very "fishing-focused culture" already by that time.
Sahul (Australia now) was connect to Sunda (Indonesia now) by a series of islands all within visible distance of each other. They could have swum there. It's more likely they used some sort of boat or raft sure, but it isn't implicit that boats were needed to get to Australia.
Humanity learning how to sail.
Step one, stand on floaty thing. Floaty thing is nice.
Step two, hair blows in wind, pushes floaty thing.
Step 3, skin someone/thing and use their skin as a large replacement body to push floaty thing.
Did you not know how to spell out '3'?
sure, but im tired and whenever I go to type three, I tend to just type 3.
Hey, we invented numbers so we wouldn't have to type them out..
sure "Item between two and four". We done here?
Wheels are prissy things. They need a well developed road or landscape that can handle the weaknesses in the design- breakable pieces, sink into mud, etc. They're actually very late to the invention game.
Foir comparison, agriculture still hadn't spread to certain parts of the world (like part of Western Europe), but MAIZE had already been developed before the wheel. The plow is as old as the wheel.
The Minoans would pop up about ~500 years later.
Can't remember which one, but some ancient civilization had wheels, but only used them as toys. FTM, Hawaiians had a bow and arrow, but it was only a tiny one, used only for shooting captive rats for fun.
We also require zero infrastructure to make a boat float. Even for a primitive wheel you need some kind of road.
Came here to say this. Ships are harnessing something that is basically already there, while wheels are a totally new idea that does not take advantage of a preexisting entity like water or wind.
I think it's more that early civilizations were, without exception, developed around water ways/seas. Sea based trade/transport is super cheap once it's up and running, whereas transporting goods over land remained expensive and inefficient up until the middle of the 20th century.
Using tree trunks as “rolly things” to move stone made the pyramids and much more possible. The axel was the non-intuitive part.
The wheel isn't the key to making a practical vehicle instead the key was in the invention of the axle so that the wheel could turn while still attached to a stationary platform.
Yeah wheels still aren't practical... believe me everyone loves the idea of those uni-wheel vehicles where you sit in the wheel and drive it. They just don't work well.
I wonder how many people here have had to change their own tire due to a flat or something, I imagine that my flat car wheel is similar to the first wheels, a not exactly completely round heavy thing with no axle and is a PITA to move without just picking it up.
It’s worth noting that while sails are a more recent invention, we’ve been using boats for far longer— we would have needed them to reach Australia over 40,000 years ago.
Is it really sailing if the sail hasn't been invented yet?
Maybe not actually. The while of Indonesia might have been one continuous land mass. Just like the bering land bridge between Alaska and Siberia.
There was no land bridge when humans came to Australia, although sea levels were lower- they island hopped.
The flora and fauna deviated evolutionary from Indonesia millions of years ago.
Ah so just much much shallower.
Probably more like rafts at that point. Somebody calculated how many people had to cross the strait to populate New Guinea/Australia, which at that time were joined because of lower sea level (so were most of the Indonesian islands, where they came from). We're talking men, women, and children in fairly large numbers to sustain a population.
But the wheel has been around longer than the wall
Is this one of those cool references I don’t understand and only exist to make me feel old
I have never been more embarrassed to be an American citizen than in the last several years. He's made us an international laughingstock.
Some people think Obama made us a global laughingstock, and actually believe Trump is finally bringing respect back to the US.
Imagine being that brainwashed.
The mind boggles.
Those people are right there in the comments of that YouTube video, calling Dems and Libs mindless zombies, morons, commies and traitors, saying that Trump speaks the truth and is protecting our nation.
All while the man literally makes shit up on the spot.
I came here for this
Definitely false. I’m pretty sure even Göbekli Tepe had walls 12,000 years ago. (Of course, they were likely structural walls designed to hold things up rather than attempted barriers to keep things out. And the vast majority of walls have likely been built to keep temperature and water out, not people.)
Çatal Hüyük, which was an actual town, was built with an eye on defense. Then as always, if you had something somebody else wanted, whether it be land, food, or other resources, somebody was looking to take it.
This particular town was built with an outer wall, with shared walls between dwellings, much like a one-story apartment complex. Except that the "doors" were holes in the ceilings. The people would have used ladders to enter and exit their homes. In case of attack, the ladders could be taken down, making each home more defensible.
I learned that sentence today too.
Maybe he should build a moat?
♪♫♬ Oh the wheels in the sea keep on turnin....
The really clever bit for sailing as far as I'm concerned would be the keel, which allows doing something other than sailing directly downwind and with a steady vessel orientation.
I mean most people even today don't really understand how this works so...
I'd still expect that to come first since a wheel isn't much good without both the axle and a fairly flat and firm pathway (or a rougher surface and a pneumatic tire...)
Quite so. Even after wheels and quality roads were well established by the Romans, sailing ships were far better. It wasn't until railways that land was the fast way to travel.
Which the pneumatic tire took quite some time to be perfected! I recently read an in-depth history of pneumatic vehicle suspension systems for my work. It's a surprisingly interesting topic!
Think neanderthals used Firestone tires? Fire-stone. Someone marry me.
Actually, we know that some humans have had boats or rafts for at least 40,000 years. The Austronesians (more technically, Australo-Melanesians), the people who migrated out of southeast Asia at lest 40,000 years ago to colonize the lands from the Philippines to Australia, and so on, had them.
They were a remarkable people, possibly the techno-gods of their day. They had simple boats or rafts some 20,000 years before anyone else is known to have had them. Their ocean migration was significantly simplified by the fact that ocean levels were much lower in those days due to ice age conditions, so the longest stretch of open ocean they ever had to cross was probably no wider than about 80 km. Still, it was an impressive achievement for the time.
They might not have even been the first hominids with boats. There is indirect evidence that Homo erectus was able to sail over open ocean to inhabit the island of Flores in Indonesia over one million years ago.
The article makes the distinction between sailing and boating.
The oldest sail we’ve found is 8000 years old. The invention could be much older than that.
And probably is. The odds of an artifact being the first of its kind ever are pretty slim.
Right, but that's 32,000+ years of difference. Rowing probably was around for a few thousand years before we figured out how to attach a sail to a boat.
Not that I was really trying to make a point. I was just pointing out what definitions the OP was using in case DrColdReality hadn't read the article and realized themselves.
Then WTF did they steer with?
I was hoping someone would ask this seriously so we could discuss different types of tillers. But I'll take the joke too. :)
Jeremy Clarkson intensifies
Gonna slap an outboard on the back end of a Hilux?
Yeah that's about when I discover The Wheel when I play civ so it's accurate.
We were sailing before using horses? I thought it would be the other way around
Horses only existed in certain parts of the world. Water and wind are practically everywhere.
Seeing a horse and thinking about taming and riding it is probably further down the line than seeing a stick floating and the wind pushing it and connecting the dots.
I agree, but along with sedentary or non-nomadic lifestyles you'd think they'd have put their animals to use sooner lol
I followed the Vendee Globe race when it was run the last time. Imagine sailing alone around the world, nonstop in a race. Those boats are so freaking fast! There were daily video uplinks from the boats, and sometimes they were terrifying. Other times, e.g. rounding the Horn, when it was chokingly emotional in a beautiful way "my grandfather is watching me from heaven"... said one guy.
But the most impressive thing to me was that these competitors were all sailors in the finest, toughest, smartest traditional sense of the word. All that high tech equipment, weather satellites, computers, etc. but they still had to exercise judgement to find the best conditions along the way. E.g. A squall is developing in front of you -- the weather satellites aren't going to show it to you, or tell you which way to go.
The first time I sailed was in 1972, and it's absolutely amazing to handle a boat driven only by the wind. Some people can't understand why it would be so much fun to be on a boat that's never level, and is screaming fast at 15 kts, but I'm just the opposite. I find sailboats much more fun than power boats.
According to C.F Volney the Arabs were the only people known to have un-invented the wheel. "It is remarkable that in all of Syria one does not see a single cart or wagon." Moreover, in the Arabic and Persian languages one is hard pressed to find any vocabulary proper to either the use or construction of carts and wagons.
I have heard that the wheel was initially invented for pottery and wasn’t used for transportation until hundreds of years later (not that this has anything to do with the post, but I always found it very interesting)
I think it's loosely related to the original post and, more importantly, interesting enough to add into the conversation. Thank you!
There's supposition that we've actually used sails for more than 15,000 years but at first we just used them to guide winds into structures.
Wheels require infrastructure, large bodies of water are prebuilt infrastructure for floatables. For an easy check, go hiking once with a wheeled suitcase and once with a backpack. I guarantee, the difference will be noticeable and not in favor of wheels.
And yet I get seasick way easier that carsick.
Suck it “wheels and walls”
Sailing, it's like sex to these people
I remember a cartoon from a long time ago... two cavemen looking at a stone wheel. One of them, with a chisel and hammer in his hand, is proudly showing it to the other caveman, saying, "I call it 'fire'".
And using walls since the time we were monkeys.
I thought wheelies came out in the 2000s
We were voyagers!
And about 2000 more than christians think we’ve been around.
Once you understand how sails work this is more impressive than it first seems, because sails work in the same way as a plane's wing (the lift, here a sidways push, created by high pressure on one side and low pressure on the other, which is why you can sail towards the wind, with some zig-zagging)
It really is an impressive feat to achieve so far back.
You’re way off. Where did you get this made up number ? Humans have been sailing for 50,000 plus years
I mean, the link links to a Wikipedia article with annotations, go check for yourself. On top of that, since you're like the 50th person to mention such; sailing, riding a raft, and rowing a boat are three DIFFERENT kinds of travel over water. Google images of boats.... do they all have sails or even engines/motors? Think for a few seconds and learn how to connect a logical dot or two lol.
Other day I learned that in 7th century after Christ, people had already forgotten about the Roman Empire and common folks believed that the statues crafted by the Romans were actually made by otherworldly beings.
That made me think that we probably reinvented the wheel several.times along human history, simply because people would "forget" the wheel has already been invented a couple centuries ago.
The Egyptians some well developed technology, yet 2 thousand years later Greeks had to reinvent the Chariot and a thousand year later Europeans didn't know what a Chariot was.
Definitely a fun and interesting context to ponder and wonder about. Thanks for the brain porn.
but the earth is only 5000 years old!!..../s
Why did people need sailboats or wheels when they could just ride dinosaurs?
Let the wind and water do the work for you.
And her sailing is wasaaaay scarier
But is the wall been in use longer than sailing?
Come aboard, and bring along
I've always wondered how all those tiny islands in the Pacific were populated like Hawaii and those other small atolls where it's just coral and volcanic rock l that make up the island
Oh those Phoenicians
But there's evidence of dogs from 30000 years ago.
Pretty sure eventually it'll turn out that wheel have been one of the last things to be invented.
Man, we really need to start inventing new things again. I wonder why we stopped 5,000 years ago?
Sid Meier has lied to me for the last time
4000 BC and pottery is still not researched
pretty ridiculous honestly
About as long as there has been walls?
Perhaps farther back, if they lived by the sea then they could have been erased by a...flood