100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time

By Kendall Haven | Go to book overview

Waterwheel
Year of Invention: 25 B.C.

What Is It? A wheel fitted with paddles that converts water (stream) current
into mechanical circular motion to drive some industrial activity.

Who Invented It? Vitruvius (in Rome, Italy)


Why Is This Invention One of the 100 Greatest?

Waterwheels were the first human machine in which a natural force was controlled and converted into mechanical motion to power human land-based activity.

Waterpower, converted into mechanical energy by waterwheels, was the primary power source for grain mills, saw mills, leather works, textile mills and even blast furnaces for more than 1,500 years. Waterwheels provided the major source of civic and industrial power until the invention of the steam engine in the late 1700s.


History of the Invention

What Did People Do Before?

The power to grind grain, saw wood, spin lathes or turn potters’ wheels always came from human and animal labor—as did the power needed for any industrial or production process.

Wind power helped moved ships at sea. But even ships relied far more on oars and human power than on wind, until the ninth or tenth centuries.

As villages expanded into towns and cities, the demand for mechanical power increased. However, until the waterwheel was invented, no alternatives to human and animal power existed.


How Was the Waterwheel Invented?

The waterwheel emerged to meet two vital needs of early societies: grind grain and lift water for irrigation. In 100 B.C., grain grinding was by far the more pressing need.

Grain was ground between stones. Handfuls of grain were dropped into a large, concave stone and ground into flour with a second handheld stone. By 150 B.C., Greek millers had flattened and enlarged both stones. Workers pushed the top, moving the stone back and forth across the stationary bottom stone to grind the grains trapped between.

-12-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 336

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.