Wagon Made in Maykop Culture 3500 BCE. CREDIT: see PDF below
Continuing research on the novel I’m working on, I reviewed wheels, wagons and horse remains found in Kurgans, and discovered the first wagons were made by the Maykop culture in the piedmont of the Northern Caucasus Mountains and are dated to (download this excellent Maykop related PDF: Catacomb Culture Wagons of the Eurasian Steppes for ad-free reading) the mid-4th millennium BC i.e. 3500 BCE—coincident with the Botai horse culture! 😎 The Maykop appear to have been technological leaders in the region, and the neighboring Steppes nomads put the newly invented wagon to good use in moving their families, flocks and herds throughout the Steppes in search of the best seasonal pastures. Don’t overlook in the PDF’s Conclusions the types of wood used and the list of bronze tools needed to build the wagons: axes, adzes, chisels, awls and hand drills, which archaeologists found in some Kurgans. I would add bronze saws that would certainly make this job easier, but these were unavailable until early Dynastic Egypt, which was about 400 years too late for my story. 😥
Now the above facts about the first use of the wheel may seem trivial among the blizzard of factoids overwhelming us in our modern 24-hour-news cultures, but those folks at Maykop certainly were world-leading technologists in the 4th millennium BC, and they’d probably be in the top ranks of today’s technologists if they hadn’t been born in the Early Bronze Age.
I am not a fan of today’s culture where those using smartphones or playing video games or using GPS declare themselves tech-savvy. So, as my spokesman, I offer this gentleman’s philosophical perspective on the invention—even if he is not well-informed about when the wheel was first used for mobility: 3500 BC above and not 2600 BC in that picture he flashes of the auroch-drawn wagon depicted on the Standard of Ur. Nor is it likely the Potter’s Wheel predated the Maykop wagon wheel, despite his claims.
This video does more justice to the wide-ranging, longer-term implications of the invention of the wheel, and I recommend you watch it to expand your awareness of the wheel’s ubiquitous role and infinite variations today.
Thanks for visiting,
R. E. J. Burke