The Wheel? It’s Part Of A System Of Innovation. Or It’s Pointless.

Peter Gordon notes in passing that the pre-columbians had wheeled toys, despite leaving no record of using the wheel for carts. He directs us to evidence, where the authors posit the reasons for not having adopted wheels.

They give a number of reasons with the seventh being the closest:

With a abundant human workforce throughout Ancient America, and without large beasts of burden, wheeled vehicles would have been redundant and unnecessary. In practical terms, it is easier to carry goods, than to pull the good and the wagon, if the terrain is not well suited to wheeled vehicles.

Actually, the wheel, the chariot, the horse, wheat, and bronze were the set of tools that made the wheel possible in eurasia. They are the symbols of the spread of western civilization. And none are valuable without the rest. (Yes, even bronze.)

If you don’t have a horse, or at least a bull, a cart is a waste of energy. Carts are heavy. They are far too heavy for humans to benefit from hauling. Simple math. It’s not that carts were unnecessary. It’s that they were a bad idea. Especially in jungles and hills instead of plains and on roads.

Anthropologists should study a little economics.

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