Top 7 ancient road transport

By Rohan Chawla → Friday, 3 March 2017

The movement of people or goods through roadways is what comes under road transport. Nowadays roads refer to rural stretches of less maintained routes to various destinations. Roads in the earlier days were just the terrain that had formed due to various natural processes.
Here are a few modes of transportation that were used in the early ages:
·        Human Foot: The first mode of transportation that man discovered was using his own limbs to travel from one place to the other. The stone age men were hunters and gatherers. They traveled to places for food and shelter using nothing but their feet.
·        Animals: The stone age people eventually learned to domesticate the animals. Horses and donkeys were domesticated around 4000 and 3000 BC. Camels were domesticated a little later between 3000 and 2000 BC. People realized how to harness the power and load carrying capacities of the animals. They used them to carry their loads and to transport them from one place to another.
These were the basic fundamentals of transportation on land which have not changed till date. We still use our feet to travel short distances. Animals are still domesticated for travel and transport.

The Sledge: Before the invention of the wheel heavy loads of unsuitable shape and sizes were needed to be carried. The early humans used sleds. It was a wooden platform that was used to carry heavy objects. The smooth runners were used to ease the movement of the wooden frame. With the domestication of animals, sleds became more useful. Animals bore the load instead of humans relieving them from the strenuous work. The sleds were in use at least from 7000 BC.

The invention of the wheel: The revolutionary invention that led to industrial development was the wheel. You can find a wheel in every machinery that is to be found. The cylindrical figure rolling on its edge was used to make a stable stationary platform easily movable. The construction of the wheel and axle combination was a challenge. With the advent of the bronze age, the early man had already become skilled in using the hard metal tools. Thus the invention of the wheel came out during that time. The earliest wheel was found in Mesopotamia around the 3,500 BC.

Wagons: The earliest of wagons was discovered stuck in the mud in the region now known as Zurich. Wagons came into being after the invention of the wheel around 3000 BC. It had two solid wooden wheels attached together using an axle which moved along with the wheels. It was a massively heavy vehicle weighing nearly a ton. It was the first known wheeled transport. These were pulled by oxen.  Around 2000 BC this form of transportation gained popularity in a wide region ranging from northern Europe to western Persia and Mesopotamia.
The wheels of the massive vehicle were made of a single piece of wood or three planks of it joined together. The axle design varied, sometimes the axle moved with them, sometimes the wheels moved on it. Speed was not a characteristic of such a vehicle. It was used to transport the king on his throne during a public ceremony at 2 miles per hour.

Chariot: With the passage of time and domestication of horses people craved for a faster mode of transport. This gave rise to chariots which came around 2000 BC. Chariot is a vehicle with light wood superstructure held on two wheels. The wheels were hollow and made rims were constructed using bent wood. They were held in place using spokes.
These were drawn by one or multiple horses and had various uses. It became the vehicle most used in wars. The chariot used to carry two people one who used to drive it and the other who used to fight the enemies. It was a resource used to get in and out of the war. It could travel at 8 miles an hour at a trot and could go up to 16 miles an hour while galloping. Chariots were also used for recreational purposes such as races in the Olympic games and the Roman Circus Maximus.

Carriages: Advancement in human lifestyle gave rise to the making of paved roads. These were nothing but a smooth and well-built replacement of the uneven natural surface that was hard to tread upon. The roads made travel and transport smoother and faster.
Carriages came into being in the 17th century. This made travel for people more comfortable. Carriages were available for hire in the streets of London from1605. The carriage consisted of a seating area held upon a four-wheeled structure. The seating area could accommodate 4 people at a time facing each other. It was in the form of a shallow U with a protective roof above it. Doors on either side provided entry and exit. The driver sat in front above the front wheels and guided the horse. From 1680 glass windows replaced the blinds which were used to keep out the weather. The frames where the travelers were seated hung from the frame with leather straps. This was the first attempt to provide the people a bump free ride. Later on, these were replaced with curved metal springs that absorbed the shock more effectively.
Stagecoach: It was introduced as a form of public transport in the 19th century. The stagecoach was huge carriage that could carry up to 8 elite passengers in an enclosed sophisticated space. The second class seats were nothing but an open basket attached to the end. Passengers were even piled up on the roof with their luggage. The hand railing there only form of protection. The heavy and cumbersome carriage was drawn by 4 to 6 horses. The stagecoaches were cheaper than the carriages. They had no springs or shock absorbers and the rides were uncomfortable. Being heavy and loaded with people and luggage these took a longer time to travel. These were mostly popular in America and Great Britain.  


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