tone arches, cement, highways, aqueducts, the waterwheel, the sailing ship, the compass-each of these technological innovations was made by people in the ancient world. The oldest technology of which evidence survives-dating back to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods of the Stone Age-is that of making stone tools.
Early tool makers chipped pieces or flakes of rock, often flint, into specific shapes, depending upon the purpose of the tool. The Paleolithic hunters and herders made spears, daggers, hand axes, cutting tools, and scrapers for cleaning animal hides. The later Neolithic farmers, who inhabited an area from Egypt to Mesopotamia, refined the technology of toolmaking by sharpening and polishing their stone tools on rocks.
The invention of the wheel forever revolutionized the technology of transportation. It is not known where or when the wheel was first invented, but there is evidence of its use in many areas by around 3000 B.C. The earliest known drawing of a wheel dates from about 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and wheeled vehicles were in use there and in India and China at that time.
Egyptians used the wheel for transportation 1,000 years later. The great civilizations of Mesopotamia, India, China, and Egypt used first four-wheeled and then two-wheeled chariots in battle. Chariots became more maneuverable with the introduction of light, spoked wheels in Egypt in about 2000 B.C.
In Egypt also, building technology soared to new heights with the construction of the pyramids. The first Egyptian pyramid was begun around 2500 B.C. or 2600 B.C. The huge limestone blocks of the pyramids were quarried by hand with wooden, stone, and copper tools.