“Tracking the wheel from 4000 B.C.E to the present, Bulliet argues that the traditional myth falsifies history by melding three kinds of wheel into one. Rather than a “viral” tool that changed the world, different wheels serviced particular niches–mine-cars, children’s toys, parade floats, furniture casters–before emerging as the means by which today’s trains, automobiles, and shopping carts move.”
Visualizing the spectacles, particularities, and innovations that pepper human history can be difficult–especially when we are sometimes forced to recognize our own points of visual reference as being utterly foreign to those historical snapshots we’d like to imagine. Throw out, for good measure, the basic assumptions that frame our modern understanding of how both people and things function and relate to the world, and the picture falls further out of focus.
And so today we’d like to thank art, archaeology, and mechanical design for helping to illuminate the myth of a singular “Eureka!” moment for the wheel with just the kind of visual aid modern reader’s need: an imgur page created by Richard W. Bulliet (so thanks to him, too!) showcasing some of the most compelling photographs, renderings, and artwork from his book The Wheel: Inventions and Reinventions.
Here’s a quick look:
Potters in southern Mexico produced wheeled toys, but the Western Hemisphere never developed large-scale wheeled transport.
Tricycle design indicates that Ackermann steering was still not understood to be the best design for a motor vehicle.
We are also offering a FREE copy of Short Selling. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, February 12th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!