Assessing Connections between the Spoked Wheel and Bronze Age Elite Social Identities

Author(s): James Johnson

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Wheels, Horses, Babies and Bathwaters: Celebrating the Impact of David W. Anthony on the Study of Prehistory" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The wheel may be the greatest, and most enduring, technological innovation in human history. Certainly, the wheel transformed the potential and efficacy of transportation technologies, trade and exchange systems, not to mention human mobility. The innovation of the wheel produced previously unknown socio-economic possibilities, including traveling more and farther, increased speed and cargo load weight, as well as additional opportunities for culture contact and cultural transmission. What is dramatically under-studied are the long-term representational, or symbolic, connections between innovations in wheeled technologies and those in social structure and organization. This paper assesses the improved technological performance with the introduction of the spoked wheel and its association with changes to elite social identities and their place in regional cosmological orders. I seek to improve current qualitative and quantitative knowledge of how, when, and where spoked-wheel technology and its representations were integrated into various regional complex elite social systems. To do this, I assess changes to the materiality of the chariot and spoked wheel as these technologies moved from the southern Urals regions of the Eurasian steppe, c. 2100-1100 BC, to other regions such as the Mediterranean and the Near East.

Cite this Record

Assessing Connections between the Spoked Wheel and Bronze Age Elite Social Identities. James Johnson. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451913)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25732