14 Important Inventions That Predate the Wheel

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The earliest wheels were apparently made some 5,500 years ago in Mesopotamia -but they weren’t the wheels we think of today. Rather, they were potter’s wheels. It wasn’t until they’d been around for another 300 years that wheels were attached to wagons and chariots.

For all the credit the wheel gets for being the first “modern” invention that changed the world, other innovations came well before the disks that allowed our forefathers to travel and transport goods. In fact, archeologists have uncovered a number of inventions pre-dating the wheel, indicating that our clever forebears have been creating for many thousands of years. (Here are some ancient inventions you thought were modern.)

And each of these inventions has had a profound impact on human development. Walking is easier with shoes, and a glass of wine relaxes us after a long day at work. Both were invented many years before the wheel. And William Congreve’s often misquoted phrase that “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast” might well have made sense to the Neanderthals who – believe or not – invented the flute.

This is not to denigrate the wheel. Its importance to our daily lives is immeasurable. It’s just that humans were designing ingenious creations before the first wheel was rolled out. (These are the 25 oldest things in the world.) 

To compile a list of human inventions that predate the wheel, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical publications on early innovations that occurred before the wheel’s invention in around 3500 B.C. from sources including Smithsonian Magazine, ThoughtCo, Britannica, BBC, and World Archaeology.

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