This just in: Wheel "rediscovered"

by Ann
(Las Vegas, NV)

One of my best experiences in a different culture was witnessing Solomon Islands villagers “rediscover” the wheel as they figured out how to import and transport an enormous power saw they were to receive as a donation toward establishing a timber industry on their island. This isolated island had no motorized land transportation and no beasts of burden. The challenge for the residents was how to transport this huge saw, which probably weighed a ton or more. One afternoon, as villagers discussed how they would move the thing, one of them grabbed several long, slender, well-formed tree trunks lying near the cook fire, laid them on the ground, then showed his compatriots how they could place the heavy machinery on a whole bed of similar logs and roll it to its new home. As the power of the idea caught on, the islanders dubbed the inventor Brilliant! I had to agree.

Thanks for your contribution
I wonder how their lives have changed

Ann, thanks for this contribution. It is hard to imagine a society that does not have wheels or need them for day to day living. Your story creates a unique image in my mind. I am struck by the fact that these people live a life so simple that they had no need for wheeled vehicles. That would mean that they lived their lives within an area that they could travel on foot.

The fact that they never had need of a vehicle to carry large loads also strikes me. I suppose in the tropical climate of the Solomon Islands, these villagers could gather food year round, and they supported themselves on subsistence farming. They must not have needed to plant and harvest large crops to survive through the winter as people in colder climates do.

It seems like an amazing experience to watch as these people figured out how to transport this saw to their village. It would sort of be like getting a glimpse into ancient history. What a neat story!

I wonder what has happened to those villagers? My fear is that the arrival of that saw contributed to deforestation of their island. If the saw was intended to create a timber industry, the villagers would have a continuing need for wheeled vehicles to move the felled timber to its destination. It would mean that roads would have to be built too.

The new saw would also demand petrol and oil and maintenance. I wonder what those demands did to the lifestyles of the villagers? It would be interesting to know how the saw impacted their lives.


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