The Roots of Progress

The Wheel

Inventions and Reinventions

Richard Bulliet

A history of, yes, the wheel. And just as importantly, the axle. It turns out there are fundamentally two architectures for wheeled vehicles: either the wheels are fixed to the axle and the whole axle turns, or the axle is fixed and the wheels rotate freely on the end of it. The former is easier to construct, but harder to steer.

Also, until around 1600 it was not considered manly to ride in a wagon. Only women and children did that; men rode horses. A social shift was needed for the development of the carriage.

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