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{{other uses|Wheel (disambiguation)|Wheels (disambiguation)}}{{pp-move-indef}}{{short description|One of the six simple machines, a circular item that rotates about an axial bearing}}{{Use dmy dates|date=May 2011}}File:TricycleAntique.jpg|thumb|Three spoked wheels on an antique tricycletricycle(File:Roue primitive.png|thumb|The earliest wheels were made of a solid piece of wood{{citation needed|date=June 2018}})In its primitive form, a wheel is a circular block of a hard and durable material at whose center has been bored a circular hole through which is placed an axle bearing about which the wheel rotates when a moment is applied by gravity or torque to the wheel about its axis, thereby making together one of the six simple machines. When placed vertically under a load-bearing platform or case, the wheel turning on the horizontal axle makes it possible to transport heavy loads; when placed horizontally, the wheel turning on its vertical axle makes it possible to control the spinning motion used to shape materials (e.g. a potter's wheel); when mounted on a column connected to a rudder or a chassis mounted on other wheels, one can control the direction of a vessel or vehicle (e.g. a ship's wheel or steering wheel); when connected to a crank or engine, a wheel can store, release, or transmit energy (e.g. the flywheel).


The English word (:wikt:wheel|wheel) comes from the Old English word , from Proto-Germanic , from Proto-Indo-European ,ENCYCLOPEDIA, wheel, Online Etymology Dictionary,weblink an extended form of the root "to revolve, move around".Cognates within Indo-European include Icelandic "wheel, tyre", Greek {{transl|grc|kúklos}}, and Sanskrit {{transl|sa|chakra}}, the latter two both meaning "circle" or "wheel".WEB,weblink American Heritage Dictionary Entry: wheel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company,


The invention of the wheel falls into the late Neolithic, and may be seen in conjunction with other technological advances that gave rise to the early Bronze Age. This implies the passage of several wheel-less millennia even after the invention of agriculture and of pottery, during the Aceramic Neolithic. File:Ur chariot.jpg|thumb|A depiction of an onager-drawn cart on the Sumerian "battle standard of UrUrThe Halaf culture of 6500–5100 BCE is sometimes credited with the earliest depiction of a wheeled vehicle, but this is doubtful as there is no evidence of Halafians using either wheeled vehicles or even pottery wheels.BOOK, New Light on the Most Ancient East, V. Gordon Childe, 1928, 110, Precursors of wheels, known as "tournettes" or "slow wheels", were known in the Middle East by the 5th millennium BCE. One of the earliest examples was discovered at Tepe Pardis, Iran, and dated to 5200–4700 BCE. These were made of stone or clay and secured to the ground with a peg in the center, but required significant effort to turn. True potter's wheels, which are freely-spinning and have a wheel and axle mechanism, were developed in Mesopotamia (Iraq) by 4200–4000 BCE.BOOK, A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, D.T. Potts, 2012, 285, The oldest surviving example, which was found in Ur (modern day Iraq), dates to approximately 3100 BCE.BOOK, Moorey, Peter Roger Stuart, 1999, 1994, Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries: The Archaeological Evidence,weblink Winona Lake, IN, Eisenbrauns, 978-1-57506-042-2, 146, Evidence of wheeled vehicles appeared by the late 4th millennium BCE. Depictions of wheeled wagons found on clay tablet pictographs at the Eanna district of Uruk, in the Sumerian civilization of Mesopotamia, are dated between 3699–3500 BCE.JOURNAL, Attema, P. A. J., Los-Weijns, Ma, Pers, N. D. Maring-Van der, Bronocice, Flintbek, Uruk, JEbel Aruda and Arslantepe: The Earliest Evidence Of Wheeled Vehicles In Europe And The Near East, Palaeohistoria, December 2006, 47/48, University of Groningen, 10–28 (11),weblink In the second half of the 4th millennium BCE, evidence of wheeled vehicles appeared near-simultaneously in the Northern (Maykop culture) and South Caucasus (Early Kurgan culture) and Eastern Europe (Cucuteni-Trypillian culture). Depictions of a wheeled vehicle appeared between 3500–3350 BCE in the Bronocice clay pot excavated in a Funnelbeaker culture settlement in southern Poland.BOOK, Anthony, David A., The horse, the wheel, and language: how Bronze-Age riders from the Eurasian steppes shaped the modern world, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2007, 67, 978-0-691-05887-0, In nearby Olszanica, a 2.2 m wide door was constructed for wagon entry; this barn was 40 m long with 3 doors.WEB,weblink 35. Olszanica Longhouse 6: Why has it got wide doors?, 2018-10-26, Surviving evidence of a wheel-axle combination, from Stare Gmajne near Ljubljana in Slovenia (Ljubljana Marshes Wooden Wheel), is dated within two standard deviations to 3340–3030 BCE, the axle to 3360–3045 BCE.Velušček, A.; ÄŒufar, K. and Zupančič, M. (2009) "Prazgodovinsko leseno kolo z osjo s kolišča Stare gmajne na Ljubljanskem barju", pp. 197–222 in A. Velušček (ed.). Koliščarska naselbina Stare gmajne in njen as. Ljubljansko barje v 2. polovici 4. tisočletja pr. Kr. Opera Instituti Archaeologici Sloveniae 16. Ljubljana. Two types of early Neolithic European wheel and axle are known; a circumalpine type of wagon construction (the wheel and axle rotate together, as in Ljubljana Marshes Wheel), and that of the Baden culture in Hungary (axle does not rotate). They both are dated to c. 3200–3000 BCE.Fowler, Chris; Harding, Jan and Hofmann, Daniela (eds.) (2015). The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. OUP Oxford. {{ISBN|0-19-166688-2}}. p. 109. Some historians believe that there was a diffusion of the wheeled vehicle from the Near East to Europe around the mid-4th millennium BCE.JOURNAL, Attema, P. A. J., Los-Weijns, Ma, Maring-Van der Pers, N. D., Bronocice, Flintbek, Uruk, Jebel Aruda and Arslantepe: The Earliest Evidence of Wheeled Vehicles in Europe and the Near East, Palaeohistoria, December 2006, 47/48, University of Groningen, 10-28 (19-20),weblink File:India - Kanchipuram - 023 - chariot unveiled for upcoming festival (2507526057).jpg|thumb|left|Solid wheels on a heavy temple car, contrasted with the lighter wire-spoked wheels of the black roadster bicycle in the foreground]]Early wheels were simple wooden disks with a hole for the axle. Some of the earliest wheels were made from horizontal slices of tree trunks. Because of the uneven structure of wood, a wheel made from a horizontal slice of a tree trunk will tend to be inferior to one made from rounded pieces of longitudinal boards.The spoked wheel was invented more recently, and allowed the construction of lighter and swifter vehicles. The earliest known examples of wooden spoked wheels are in the context of the Sintashta culture, dating to c. 2000 BCE (Krivoye Lake). Soon after this, horse cultures of the Caucasus region used horse-drawn spoked-wheel war chariots for the greater part of three centuries. They moved deep into the Greek peninsula where they joined with the existing Mediterranean peoples to give rise, eventually, to classical Greece after the breaking of Minoan dominance and consolidations led by pre-classical Sparta and Athens. Celtic chariots introduced an iron rim around the wheel in the 1st millennium BCE.File:Twenty main wheels of Qatar Airways A380 (A7-APD) arr London Heathrow 10Sept2015 arp.jpg|thumb|left|Qatar Airways Airbus A380 arrives at London Heathrow Airport. It has twenty main undercarriage wheels (four + four on the wing, and six + six on the fuselage). (2015)]]In China, the wheel was certainly present with the adoption of the chariot in c. 1200 BCE,Dyer, Gwynne, War: the new edition, p. 159: Vintage Canada Edition, Randomhouse of Canada, Toronto, ON although Barbieri-LowBarbieri-Low, Anthony (February 2000) "Wheeled Vehicles in the Chinese Bronze Age (c. 2000–741 B.C.)", Sino-Platonic Papers argues for earlier Chinese wheeled vehicles, c. 2000 BCE.In Britain, a large wooden wheel, measuring about {{convert|1|m|ft|abbr=on}} in diameter, was uncovered at the Must Farm site in East Anglia in 2016. The specimen, dating from 1,100–800 BCE, represents the most complete and earliest of its type found in Britain. The wheel's hub is also present. A horse's spine found nearby suggests the wheel may have been part of a horse-drawn cart. The wheel was found in a settlement built on stilts over wetland, indicating that the settlement had some sort of link to dry land.WEB,weblink Bronze Age wheel at 'British Pompeii' Must Farm an 'unprecedented find', BBC, 2016-02-18, File:Remojadas Wheeled Figurine.jpg|thumb|A figurine featuring the New WorldNew WorldAlthough large-scale use of wheels did not occur in the Americas prior to European contact, numerous small wheeled artifacts, identified as children's toys, have been found in Mexican archeological sites, some dating to about 1500 BCE.JOURNAL, Wheeled Toys in Mexico, 275722, Ekholm, Gordon F, American Antiquity, 11, 4, 222–28, April 1946,
It is thought that the primary obstacle to large-scale development of the wheel in the Americas was the absence of domesticated large animals which could be used to pull wheeled carriages.BOOK, Diamond, Jared, 1999, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New York, Norton, 237, 978-0-393-31755-8, The closest relative of cattle present in Americas in pre-Columbian times, the American Bison, is difficult to domesticate and was never domesticated by Native Americans; several horse species existed until about 12,000 years ago, but ultimately became extinct.BOOK
, Singer
, Ben
, A brief history of the horse in America
, Canadian Geographic Magazine
, May 2005
, yes
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 19 August 2014
, The only large animal that was domesticated in the Western hemisphere, the llama, a pack animal but not physically suited to use as a draft animal to pull wheeled vehicles,The Carriage Journal Vol 23 No 4 Spring 1986 did not spread far beyond the Andes by the time of the arrival of Columbus.Nubians from after about 400 BCE used wheels for spinning pottery and as water wheels.NEWS,weblink Crafts – Uncovering Treasures of Ancient Nubia, 27 February 1994,, It is thought that Nubian waterwheels may have been ox-driven.WEB,weblink What the Nubians Ate, Discover Magazine, It is also known that Nubians used horse-drawn chariots imported from Egypt.BOOK,weblink The Cambridge History of Africa, Fage, J.D., Oliver, Roland Anthony, 1975, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-21592-3, en, The wheel was barely used, with the exception of the Horn of Africa, in Sub-Saharan Africa well into the 19th century but this changed with the arrival of the Europeans.{{Citation |last1= Chaves |first1= Isaías |last2= Engerman |first2= Stanley L. |author2-link= Stanley Engerman |last3= Robinson |first3= James A. |year= 2012 |title= Reinventing the Wheel: The Economic Benefits of Wheeled Transportation in Early Colonial British West Africa |url=weblink |publisher= Weatherhead Center for International Affairs |accessdate= 5 January 2014 |mode= cs1 |page= 1 |quote= One of the great technological puzzles of Sub-Saharan African economic history is that wheeled transportation was barely used prior to the colonial period. Instead, head porterage was the main method of transportation. |deadurl= yes |archiveurl=weblink" title="">weblink |archivedate= 6 January 2014 |df= dmy-all }}JOURNAL, Law, Robin C., 1980, Wheeled Transportation in Pre-Colonial West Africa, Africa, 50, 3, 249–62, 10.2307/1159117, 1159117, The spoked wheel was in continued use without major modification until the 1870s, when wire-spoked wheels and pneumatic tires were – Wheel and axle The wire spokes are under tension, not compression, making it possible for the wheel to be both stiff and light. Early radially-spoked wire wheels gave rise to tangentially-spoked wire wheels, which were widely used on cars into the late 20th century. Cast alloy wheels are now more commonly used; forged alloy wheels are used when weight is critical.The invention of the wheel has also been important for technology in general, important applications including the water wheel, the cogwheel (see also antikythera mechanism), the spinning wheel, and the astrolabe or torquetum. More modern descendants of the wheel include the propeller, the jet engine, the flywheel (gyroscope) and the turbine.File:Ljubljana_(8629147956).jpg|Ljubljana Marshes Wheel, from around 3150 BCE (the oldest known wooden wheel in the world).File:Tekerlek.jpg|Twentieth-century solid wheel made of wooden boards, bound with a metal wheel rimFile:Greek chariot.jpg|Spoked wheels on the ancient Etruscan Monteleone chariot, 2nd quarter of the 6th century BCE{{Contradict-inline|reason=Caption and article say that this is earlier than things mentioned above, but this chariot isn't described in the text above. Can we fix the text?|date=November 2017}}File:Spoked wheel from Arokalja.jpg|Spoked wheel with bronze sheeting from Árokalja, from around 1000 BCE.File:Speichenkreuzung.jpg|Radially- (left) and tangentially- (right) wire-spoked wheels, both with pneumatic tires.File:Bootie bicycle frunt wheel balloon tyre bootiebike com.jpg|Cast alloy wheel on a folding bicycle, with a pneumatic tire.

Mechanics and function

The low resistance to motion (compared to dragging) is explained as follows (refer to friction):
  • the normal force at the sliding interface is the same.
  • the sliding distance is reduced for a given distance of travel.
  • the coefficient of friction at the interface is usually lower.
Bearings are used to help reduce friction at the interface. In the simplest and oldest case the bearing is just a round hole through which the axle passes (a "plain bearing").Example:
  • If a 100 kg object is dragged for 10 m along a surface with the coefficient of friction μ = 0.5, the normal force is 981 N and the work done (required energy) is (work=force x distance) 981 × 0.5 × 10 = 4905 joules.
  • Now give the object 4 wheels. The normal force between the 4 wheels and axles is the same (in total) 981 N. Assume, for wood, μ = 0.25, and say the wheel diameter is 1000 mm and axle diameter is 50 mm. So while the object still moves 10 m the sliding frictional surfaces only slide over each other a distance of 0.5 m. The work done is 981 × 0.25 × 0.5 = 123 joules; the work done has reduced to 1/40 of that of dragging.
Additional energy is lost from the wheel-to-road interface. This is termed rolling resistance which is predominantly a deformation loss. This energy is also lowered by the use of a wheel (in comparison to dragging) because the net force on the contact point between the road and the wheel is almost perpendicular to the ground, and hence, generates an almost zero net work. This depends on the nature of the ground, of the material of the wheel, its inflation in the case of a tire, the net torque exerted by the eventual engine, and many other factors.A wheel can also offer advantages in traversing irregular surfaces if the wheel radius is sufficiently large compared to the irregularities.The wheel alone is not a machine, but when attached to an axle in conjunction with bearing, it forms the wheel and axle, one of the simple machines. A driven wheel is an example of a wheel and axle. Wheels pre-date driven wheels by about 6000 years, themselves an evolution of using round logs as rollers to move a heavy load—a practice going back in pre-history so far that it has not been dated.


{{about|structure of wheel|making of wire-spoked wheels|Wheelbuilding|making of non-wire spoked wheels|Wheel construction}}


File:AluminumWheel spoke design.jpg|right|thumb|An aluminium alloy wheelalloy wheelThe rim is the "outer edge of a wheel, holding the tire."BOOK,weblink The Pocket Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, Elizabeth, Jewel, Oxford University Press, 2006, 978-0-19-530715-3, 722, 2012-01-04, It makes up the outer circular design of the wheel on which the inside edge of the tire is mounted on vehicles such as automobiles. For example, on a bicycle wheel the rim is a large hoop attached to the outer ends of the spokes of the wheel that holds the tire and tube.In the 1st millennium BCE an iron rim was introduced around the wooden wheels of chariots.


The hub is the center of the wheel, and typically houses a bearing, and is where the spokes meet.A hubless wheel (also known as a rim-rider or centerless wheel) is a type of wheel with no center (wikt:hub|hub). More specifically, the hub is actually almost as big as the wheel itself. The axle is hollow, following the wheel at very close tolerances.


File:Wheel Iran.jpg|thumb|A spoked wheel on display at The National Museum of Iran, in Tehran. The wheel is dated to the late 2nd millennium BCE and was excavated at Choqa ZanbilChoqa ZanbilA spoke is one of some number of rods radiating from the center of a wheel (the hub where the axle connects), connecting the hub with the round traction surface. The term originally referred to portions of a log which had been split lengthwise into four or six sections. The radial members of a wagon wheel were made by carving a spoke (from a log) into their finished shape. A spokeshave is a tool originally developed for this purpose. Eventually, the term spoke was more commonly applied to the finished product of the wheelwright's work, than to the materials used.


The rims of wire wheels (or "wire spoked wheels") are connected to their hubs by wire spokes. Although these wires are generally stiffer than a typical wire rope, they function mechanically the same as tensioned flexible wires, keeping the rim true while supporting applied loads.Wire wheels are used on most bicycles and still used on many motorcycles. They were invented by aeronautical engineer George Cayley and first used in bicycles by James Starley. A process of assembling wire wheels is described as wheelbuilding.
missing image!
- 1957 MG A Roadster.jpg -
A 1957 MGA automobile with wire wheels


(File:Car tires.jpg|thumb|left|Stacked and standing car tires)A tire (in American English and Canadian English) or tyre (in some Commonwealth Nations such as UK, India, South Africa and Australia) is a ring-shaped covering that fits around a wheel rim to protect it and enable better vehicle performance by providing a flexible cushion that absorbs shock while keeping the wheel in close contact with the ground. The word itself may be derived from the word "tie," which refers to the outer steel ring part of a wooden cart wheel that ties the wood segments together (see Etymology below).The fundamental materials of modern tires are synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric and wire, along with other compound chemicals. They consist of a tread and a body. The tread provides traction while the body ensures support. Before rubber was invented, the first versions of tires were simply bands of metal that fitted around wooden wheels to prevent wear and tear. Today, the vast majority of tires are pneumatic inflatable structures, comprising a doughnut-shaped body of cords and wires encased in rubber and generally filled with compressed air to form an inflatable cushion. Pneumatic tires are used on many types of vehicles, such as cars, bicycles, motorcycles, trucks, earthmovers, and aircraft.


While wheels are very widely used for ground transport, there are alternatives, some of which are suitable for terrain where wheels are ineffective. Alternative methods for ground transport without wheels include:{{div col}} {{div col end}}


The wheel has also become a strong cultural and spiritual metaphor for a cycle or regular repetition (see chakra, reincarnation, Yin and Yang among others). As such and because of the difficult terrain, wheeled vehicles were forbidden in old Tibet. The wheel in ancient China is seen as a symbol of health and strength and utilized by some villages as a tool to predict future health and success. The diameter of the wheel is indicator of one's future health.The winged wheel is a symbol of progress, seen in many contexts including the coat of arms of Panama, the logo of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the State Railway of Thailand. The wheel is also the prominent figure on the flag of India. The wheel in this case represents law (dharma). It also appears in the flag of the Romani people, hinting to their nomadic history and their Indian origins.The introduction of spoked (chariot) wheels in the Middle Bronze Age appears to have carried somewhat of a prestige. The sun cross appears to have a significance in Bronze Age religion, replacing the earlier concept of a Solar barge with the more 'modern' and technologically advanced solar chariot. The wheel was also a solar symbol for the Ancient Egyptians.BOOK, Hall, Adelaide S., A Glossary of Important Symbols in Their Hebrew: Pagan and Christian Forms, 2005, 978-1-59605-593-3, 56,weblink {{clear}}

See also



External links

{{Commons category|Wheels}}{{Commons category|Automobile wheels}}{{Wiktionary|wheel}}{{Prehistoric technology}}{{Locomotive running gear}}{{Authority control}}

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