Saudi Aramco World: January/February 2014 - page 11

January/February 2014
Transportation in the Near East was important for trade, communication and warfare. The
earliest wheeled wagons were in use from around 3500
in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, and the earliest wheeled transportation
in Mesopotamia is known from depictions of four-wheeled wagons dated to around 3300
. They were usually made of hardwoods
like elm and tamarisk, with rawhide as a tire and metal fittings or bandings for the axle and securing pin. Wheel size was important for
maneuverability and speed; the larger the wheel, the faster the vehicle.
Kofi Nii has been a taxi
driver in Chicago since
1989. His cab is equipped
with a good sound system
that features the music
of reggae greats such as
Bob Marley. A native of
Ghana, he worked as a
merchant seaman before
settling in Chicago.
Shown with:
Iron wheels with bronze hubs from the Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Sargon, ca. 705
, Iraq. (23.1 x 0.8 cm / 9 x
) These miniature wheels were found at the Neo-Assyrian capital at Khorsabad, ancient Dur Sharrukin (“Fortress of Sargon”).
They probably came from a ceremonial cart or wheeled stand that did not survive its burial. During the Iron Age (ca. 1200–586
as iron working became more widespread, metals such as bronze or iron were used as bands or hoops around wooden wheels to
add strength and durability without compromising speed.
“Those wheels date back to
… an age that I wasn’t even
born, and they look very
interesting. I know that in
those days people had to
have more stuffing for their
ears because [the wheel is]
metal, it will make some
noise, a lot of noise…. It
would wear out quick [on
Chicago’s streets]. In those
days, they were using the
wheel to transport merchandise, you know, wheat, and something to go and sell; so it’s transportation, and right now that’s what I’m doing,
transporting people, from point A to point B. Without the wheel there won’t be transporting, because you can’t find a square block and put
it on the car; it’s got to be a round wheel…. Yeah, I say amen to those who invented it. I guess that’s how they derived the ‘horsepower’ for
the cars, from the horse pulling,… you know,… mechanical horsepower … how many [horsepower] your car get?
Jason Reblando
) received a
sociology from Boston College and an
in photography from
Columbia College, Chicago. His photographs are part of the
collections of several museums, and he teaches photography
at Illinois State University.
Matthew Cunningam
) is
a multimedia producer with more than 15 years’ experience
producing stories for Chicago Public Media’s daily news and
weekly arts programming. He is currently the creative producer
and principal at Truthful Enthusiasm in Chicago.
Jack Green
) is chief curator of the
Oriental Institute Museum and a research associate of the
Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. He is co-editor
of the Oriental Institute Museum publication
Picturing the Past:
Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East.
Emily Teeter
) received her doctorate
from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civiliza-
tions at the University of Chicago. She is an Egyptologist,
research associate and coordinator of special exhibits at the
Oriental Institute and the editor of exhibit catalogs.
This article has been abridged with permission from
Our Work: Modern
Jobs—Ancient Origins.
Reblando, et al. 2013, Oriental Institute Museum
Publications 36, 978-1-885-923-99-8, $24.95 pb, © 2013 The University of
Chicago; published in conjunction with the exhibition “Our Work: Modern
Jobs—Ancient Origins” at the Oriental Institute, August 20, 2013 through
February 23, 2014.
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