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Wheeled Vehicles

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Definition: The invention of the wheel to assist transportation was made in Uruk, Mesopotamia during the fourth millennium BC. The idea of the wheel is of course much older, and was used first in Mesopotamia for wheel-thrown pottery. Because the use of one on carts is only useful if you have flat landscapes and draft animals, the wheeled vehicle came late to advanced civilizations such as Egypt (1700 BC) and China (1400 BC). Andrew Sherratt associates the wheel with the use of the plow during the Secondary Products Revolution (SPR) of the sixth millennium BC in Mesopotamia, when dragged sledges were in wide use. When sledges carried heavy loads, log rollers were placed beneath the sledges, eventually evolving into wheeled vehicles, as identified at Uruk by 2500 BC.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology. Sources for the term include the references listed on the front page of the Dictionary, and the websites listed in the sidebar.

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