Transforming Technical Know-how in Time and Space. Using the Digital Atlas of Innovations to Understand the Innovation Process of Animal Traction and the Wheel

Florian Klimscha

Abstract


The paper uses a new research tool, the Digital Atlas of Innovations to re-think the invention and diffusion of wheeled vehicles in Eurasia during the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. It is argued that the diffusion of wheeled vehicles is the result of the local transformation of several technical components which have been known since the Pottery Neolithic. The technical knowledge to combine these components was widely spread and resulted in experimentation with the use of animal traction already in the late 6th millennium. It were, however, the significantly better connected networks which were established during the early 4th millennium, which enabled the innovation-diffusion of the wheel from its presumed zone of origin in the Black Sea area to the Baltic. The same technology (minus the wheels) is also adopted in many other regions, where it is transformed according to local specifications (ploughs, sleds).

Keywords


Technical innovation; diffusion of innovations; Neolithic; Bronze Age; wheel and wagon; ploughing; cattle traction

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eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies (ISSN 2192-2608)