Manual Selected Writings on Chariots and Other Early Vehicles, Riding and Harness

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From the Levant it was taken to Egypt, probably by the Hyksos, a Semitic people who invaded lower Egypt.

Ironically the Hyksos were ultimately expelled c. Fields, Bronze Age War Chariots , p. Ramsey et al. Meanwhile the chariot also moved westward via the steppe north of the Black Sea to the Lower Danube area, and up the Danube. The characteristic Myceanean type had four spokes per wheel. The concept had moved across Europe by about BC, when chariots are depicted on engraved slabs in a noble's tomb in Sweden and warrior stelae in south-west Iberia. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans , pp. Fields, Bronze Age War Chariots , pp. But these cases were exceptional, no doubt the result of long-distance travel.

The chariot reached central Europe centuries later, as the Cimmerians fled up the Danube from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, bringing chariot-horses with them. The concept fed into the Hallstatt C Culture formed around BC, and was spread more widely by the movements of the Celts. The scythed chariot was vicious contraption invented by the Persians, who used them against the Greeks.

The idea seems to have reached the British Isles. In the 1st century AD the British were reported to make war in two-horse chariots called covinni, with axles equipped with scythes. Frank E.

Imperialism and Warfare in the Ancient Egyptian Empire

Romer , p. A fearsome chariot features in Early Irish literature as the war vehicle of the hero Cuchulain:. Later chariots could be expensively plated with bronze, making them even more desirable as status symbols. These glamorous vehicles are beloved by film-makers aiming to recreate life in the great civilizations. They have a considerable amount of evidence to draw on. Depictions of chariots appear in carvings, murals, mosaics and pot decoration. They are listed in royal inventories and mentioned in histories.

By contrast we are generally reliant on archaeology for evidence of the transport used by those cultures outside the literate world, primarily burials including chariots. Permafrost preserved the four-wheeled example shown here from a Scythian burial mound in Siberia. Chariot burials though are mainly confined to Continental Eurasia.

So the unearthing in of an Iron Age chariot burial at Wetwang , England, hit the headlines. Hill, Wetwang - Chariot burial, Current Archaeology , vol. Most surprising to many was the fact that the grave was that of a woman. Yet chariot burials had been found at Wetwang before, including one of a woman. The earliest spoke-wheeled chariots date to ca.

The domestication of the horse was an important step toward civilization. An increasing amount of evidence supports the hypothesis, that horses were domesticated in the Eurasian Steppes Dereivka in Ukraine approximately BC. The invention of the wheel used in transportation most likely took place in Mesopotamia or the Eurasian steppes in modern-day Ukraine.

Evidence of wheeled vehicles appears from the mid 4th millennium BC near-simultaneously in the Northern Caucasus Maykop culture , and in Central Europe. The earliest vehicles may have been ox carts. Starokorsunskaya kurgan in the Kuban region of Russia contains a wagon grave or chariot burial of the Maikop Culture which also had horses. The two solid wooden wheels from this kurgan have been dated to the second half of the fourth millennium. Soon thereafter the number of such burials in this Northern Caucasus region multiplied. As David W. Anthony writes in his book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language , in Eastern Europe, the earliest well-dated depiction of a wheeled vehicle a wagon with two axles and four wheels is on the Bronocice pot c.

It is a clay pot excavated in a Funnelbeaker settlement in Swietokrzyskie Voivodeship in Poland. The oldest securely dated real wheel-axle combination in Eastern Europe is the Ljubljana Marshes Wheel c. Procession of chariots on a Late Geometric amphora from Athens ca. The latter Greeks of the first millennium BC had a still not very effective cavalry arm, and the rocky terrain of the Greek mainland was unsuited for wheeled vehicles.

Consequently, in historical Greece the chariot was never used to any extent in war. Nevertheless, the chariot retained a high status and memories of its era were handed down in epic poetry. Linear B tablets from Mycenaean palaces record large inventories of chariots, sometimes with specific details as to how many chariots were assembled or not i. Later the vehicles were used in games and processions, notably for races at the Olympic and Panathenaic Games and other public festivals in ancient Greece, in hippodromes and in contests called agons.

They were also used in ceremonial functions, as when a paranymph , or friend of a bridegroom, went with him in a chariot to fetch the bride home. Herodotus Histories , 5. Greek chariots were made to be drawn by two horses attached to a central pole. If two additional horses were added, they were attached on each side of the main pair by a single bar or trace fastened to the front or prow of the chariot, as may be seen on two prize vases in the British Museum from the Panathenaic Games at Athens, Greece , in which the driver is seated with feet resting on a board hanging down in front close to the legs of the horses.

The biga itself consists of a seat resting on the axle, with a rail at each side to protect the driver from the wheels. Greek chariots appear to have lacked any other attachment for the horses, which would have made turning difficult. The body or basket of the chariot rested directly on the axle called beam connecting the two wheels. There was no suspension , making this an uncomfortable form of transport. At the back the basket was open, making it easy to mount and dismount. There was no seat, and generally only enough room for the driver and one passenger.

The reins were mostly the same as those in use in the 19th century, and were made of leather and ornamented with studs of ivory or metal. The reins were passed through rings attached to the collar bands or yoke, and were long enough to be tied round the waist of the charioteer to allow for defense. The wheels and basket of the chariot were usually of wood, strengthened in places with bronze or iron.

They had from four to eight spokes and tires of bronze or iron. Due to the widely spaced spokes, the rim of the chariot wheel was held in tension over comparatively large spans. Whilst this provided a small measure of shock absorption, it also necessitated the removal of the wheels when the chariot was not in use, to prevent warping from continued weight bearing. According to Greek mythology, the chariot was invented by Erichthonius of Athens to conceal his feet, which were those of a dragon.

This story led to the archaic meaning of a phaeton as one who drives a chariot or coach, especially at a reckless or dangerous speed. Plato , in his Chariot Allegory , depicted a chariot drawn by two horses, one well behaved and the other troublesome, representing opposite impulses of human nature; the task of the charioteer, representing reason, was to stop the horses from going different ways and to guide them towards enlightenment.

The Trundholm sun chariot is dated to c.

Download Selected Writings On Chariots And Other Early Vehicles Riding And Harness

The horse drawing the solar disk runs on four wheels, and the Sun itself on two. All wheels have four spokes. The "chariot" comprises the solar disk, the axle, and the wheels, and it is unclear whether the sun is depicted as the chariot or as the passenger. Nevertheless, the presence of a model of a horse-drawn vehicle on two spoked wheels in Northern Europe at such an early time is astonishing. In addition to the Trundholm chariot, there are numerous petroglyphs from the Nordic Bronze Age that depict chariots.

One petroglyph, drawn on a stone slab in a double burial from c. The use of the composite bow in chariot warfare is not attested in northern Europe.

Dr. Peter Raulwing

The Celts were famous for their chariots and modern English words like car , carriage and carry are ultimately derived from the native Brythonic language Modern Welsh : Cerbyd. The word chariot itself is derived from the Norman French charriote and shares a Celtic root Gaulish : karros. Some 20 iron-aged chariot burials have been excavated in Britain, roughly dating from between BC and BC. British chariots were open in front. Julius Caesar provides the only significant eyewitness report of British chariot warfare:. Their mode of fighting with their chariots is this: firstly, they drive about in all directions and throw their weapons and generally break the ranks of the enemy with the very dread of their horses and the noise of their wheels; and when they have worked themselves in between the troops of horse, leap from their chariots and engage on foot.

The charioteers in the meantime withdraw some little distance from the battle, and so place themselves with the chariots that, if their masters are overpowered by the number of the enemy, they may have a ready retreat to their own troops. Thus they display in battle the speed of horse, [together with] the firmness of infantry; and by daily practice and exercise attain to such expertness that they are accustomed, even on a declining and steep place, to check their horses at full speed, and manage and turn them in an instant and run along the pole, and stand on the yoke, and thence betake themselves with the greatest celerity to their chariots again.

Sculpture by Thomas Thornycroft of Boudica and her daughters in her chariot, addressing her troops before the battle. Procession of chariots and warriors on the Vix krater c. Modern reconstruction of a Hussite war wagon. Chariots could also be used for ceremonial purposes. According to Tacitus Annals The last mention of chariot use in battle seems to be at the Battle of Mons Graupius , somewhere in modern Scotland, in 84 AD. From Tacitus Agricola 1. Later through the centuries, the chariot, became commonly known as the " war wagon ".

The "war wagon" was a medieval development used to attack rebel or enemy forces on battle fields.

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The wagon was given slits for archers to shoot enemy targets, supported by infantry using pikes and flails and later for the invention of gunfire by hand-gunners; side walls were used for protection against archers, crossbowmen, the early use of gunpowder and cannon fire.

It was especially useful during the Hussite Wars , ca. Groups of them could form defensive works, but they also were used as hardpoints for Hussite formations or as firepower in pincer movements. This early use of gunpowder and innovative tactics helped a largely peasant infantry stave off attacks by the Holy Roman Empire 's larger forces of mounted knights. The only intact Etruscan chariot dates to c.

This also does not mean, however, that chariotry for warfare dispersed from one centre only. Forms of chariot may indirectly have been borrowed or even developed independently in different areas.

Driving horses past large vehicles - Romeo.

However, in view of its geographic dispersion, it is difficult to trace indications of transcultural borrowing or influencing and to establish definite lines of historical development, beyond the observing of the obvious similarities between types of chariots from various areas spread far apart such as China, South Asia, Celtic west, Scandinavia etc. The chariotry has grown as a specialized craft , evinced by some technical terms relating the training of chariot horses occurring in the famous Kikkuli treatise from Bogazkoy in 14th C.

BCE written in Hittite and a number of Indo Aryan names and words appearing in connection with the Hurrians are noteworthy here. There are two important aspects to be noticed here — Kikkuli is neither Hittite nor Aryan. He may be Munda from the sound of his name, starting with the syllable Ki. Also, it has to be noted that the training of horses is not for riding but exclusively for chariotry. However, we can not conclude whether IA tribes were the inventors, whether they just monopolized a craft developed by others, or whether they are just one of the peoples using chariots with success.

On the other hand, the wide range of chariots both to the East and to the west is sought to be understood against the background of alleged expansion of IE speaking people towards South into Iran and then into India. But with time, as AIT is generally abandoned and seek to see these tribes moving in waves into the South rather than as invaders, this picturization grew hazy and in fact, it is difficult to imagine why and what of the chariots In the hands of Aryan tribes in the use of mere cattle tending or even cattle conquering.

The chief merit of chariot lays in quick transport and warfare- it is a mobile firing platform carrying an archer and chariot forces are a feature of a well organized armies in the service of a well defined states. The fabrication and the optimal use of chariots along with breeding, selecting and training of suitable horses required a combination of number of specialized crafts and a complex organization, that could be achieved within a social and political setting characterized by a certain degree of centralization.

Vedic texts however contain no reference to the warfare of well organized armies nor to the existence of any sort of centralized states, at least in the earliest mandals of RV. Thus, we need to look at these aspects more critically and perhaps, development of a new paradigm may have to be found in place.

In the early modern scholar literature, it is Gonda in his treatise on the vahanas, the vehicles or mounts , a well documented survey of the chariot was given. Rau depicts the vedic chariot and transportation cart in the perspective of semi nomadic trekking and the fighting for cattle and pasture ground. Also, Singh in his book gives out a fairly detailed treatment of the Indian , especially the Vedic, chariot , who besides the Vedic and epic sources also quotes from Buddhist Nikaya literature.

Often the historians concocted a vision of Aryans coming in swift moving chariots to conquer the peace loving Dravidians of Indian sub continent. If we look at only the old mandalas of RV, we can say that such a vision is not validated anywhere. In our analysis where we follow a dichotomy between the early RV and later, we can observe that the later hymns say the most esteemed quality of the chariot is swiftness RV IV. The chariot is to be well carpentered and avoid accidents to return home safely.

The chariot of older period is more of an object of veneration connected with religion. The early chariots stood for veneration and enjoyed divine status RV VI. All the Vedic gods ride a chariot which consequently often share the qualities of its riders — for example the chariot of Asvins is ageless IV.