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Humanities-Historical Investigation (The Wedge)

Historical Investigation on The Wedge!

Introduction to the wedge: 

The machine that I have to picked to do my historical investigation on is the: Wedge. Wedges evolved on their own long before people. “Sharp teeth are a kind of wedge that cuts through meat and vegetables when fish or crocodiles eat something. People have been using wedges in Africa since the earliest Stone Age, about 2.6 million years ago.” This machine was first used as a type of axe used to cut wood from trees and other materials.

Past civilisations and how they used the wedge:

This machine helped civilisations such as the Romans. Not just when they were building structures but also in battle surprisingly. They used it as a battle formation to push apart/break apart the enemy. They were in the form of a triangular wedge, with their shields put up in front of them. They pushed into the enemy and broke or split them all up into little groups so then their opponents were easier to fight. The Romans also used swords these are also considered as wedges.

The Vikings used the wedge at the end of their boats, they used the wedge to literally to break through and to guide their boats through the water. Today we still use wedges to break through and guide us through the water on the front of boats. They also used it to allow their boats to float. Without the wedge, which actually forms the hull of the boat the boat wouldn’t float.

The wedge during the Renaissance:

In the renaissance many things that had been lost in the dark ages were beginning to be rediscovered and re-used. Art for example, which was not very good in the middle ages, was improved a lot in the renaissance.

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The picture to the left is renaissance art. You can see the village behind the people. This making the painting look very realistic. This is a technique which is called perspective. You can also see where there is light and shade in the picture. This is a technique known as sfumato. These techniques weren’t around in the middle ages. They started in the renaissance period.

In the middle ages they knew nothing about sfumato or perspective and painted people like they were flat. They didn’t use any shading or perspective. Shading and perspective only came about in the renaissance.

Two examples of artists at this time are Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo. They were very skilled artists and you can still there work in museums today.

Many things were invented in this time such as the banking system invented, by the Medici family. A man called Johannes Gutenburg also invented the printing press during this time. Printing in China had been going on for 4000 years before this but he actually invented a machine that did it for you instead of you having to do it by hand.

This is animated picture of a printing press.


A machine that uses a wedge today is a boat, this machine changed the world in the renaissance because we didn’t have very good roads back then so they started using the boat to trade with other countries like India for spices and fabric. The compass was improved in this time also and maps became more reliable at this time because of the Portuguese map makers.

During the renaissance many other improvements were made to the actual boat. They realised that square sails were a lot easier to handle especially when the seas were rough. They also realised that more than one mast helped the boat go faster. This is a picture of a renaissance boat.


In the renaissance there were also inventors like Leonardo da Vinci who was also a painter. He had drawings and sketches. He always wrote backwards so only he could read the notes he had. He came up with ideas for the helicopter, the catapult and many other machines that we now have today. As some say he was a man before his time.

This is a picture of the wedge at the front of the boat from the museum that we went to:


Regarding simple machines if the renaissance hadn’t happened the spice routes that are travelled by boat and road today probably wouldn’t be open because the improvements to the boat wouldn’t have been made. The spice routes wouldn’t be open today because the roads were bad and hard to use so they used boats but this wouldn’t have happened without the renaissance. The printing press wouldn’t have come about and today printing wouldn’t be around. The banking system wouldn’t have come about either. If the renaissance hadn’t happened we would not have had all of the ideas for inventions from da Vinci. Art wouldn’t have evolved either without the renaissance.

The industrial revolution:

“It began in England and within a few decades had spread to Western Europe and the United States.” The industrial revolution started in the “1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s” The population started to grow and bio-fuels like wood were replaced by coal etc. What happened next was the cottage industries were mostly changed to machine processes.

Three examples of machines that used simple machines invented in the industrial revolution were the: The telegraph, which was made up of the wheel and axle and the lever. It replaced letters. The telephone (which replaced the telegraph) was also invented at this time and it used the wheel and axle. The spinning jenny was another machine invented in this time. This machine used the wheel and axle, the lever and the pulley. This machine was then improved and became the spinning wheel.

People moved from small farms to cities for work. Goods became cheaper due to mass production. People who had specific trades like a cobbler were put out of work because suddenly a machine, which could produce a lot more shoes in one day than a person could, was brought in to do their jobs for them. So a lot of people had to go to work houses because they were put out of work.

How would the world be different if the wedge had never been invented? What might the world look like? How has it made the world better? Has it made the world worse?

The wedge has changed the world by: 1: allowing us to invent boats. If the wedge wasn’t invented the Vikings for example wouldn’t have been able to travel to Ireland and England invade and then settle there. If this hadn’t happened there wouldn’t have be so many red headed people in Ireland. 2. If the wedge wasn’t invented the Romans couldn’t have used it as a battle formation and they may not have conquered many civilisations as they did. Therefore today we might not have all of the inventions they invented and the architecture they used. 3. The windmill may have never been invented without the wedge and we would not have wind power today which is helping to slow down if not stop non-renewable resources being used and instead we are using renewable energy which is a green energy which is good for the earth.

This machine has made the world better because it has allowed us to create many other machines using the wedge and other simple machines. Lots of machines that are important today wouldn’t have been invented without the wedge. Like the boat, the fork, the knife, and many other machines.

If the industrial revolution hadn’t happened then there wouldn’t be big cities today and everyone would be living spread apart, goods would be a lot more expensive. We would not have nearly as many machines as we do today and everything would still be done by hand. Therefore simple machines, which were incorporated into other machines during this time period were necessary.

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