Chariot

Chariot

Overview

The chariot is a type of horse carriage
Carriage
A carriage is a wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn; litters and sedan chairs are excluded, since they are wheelless vehicles. The carriage is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light,...

 used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts
Bullock cart
A bullock cart or ox cart is a two-wheeled vehicle pulled by oxen . It is a means of transportation used since ancient times in many parts of the world. They are still used today where modern vehicles are too expensive or the infrastructure does not favor them.Used especially for carrying goods,...

, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

 and also built in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled conveyance drawn by two or more horses hitched side by side. The car was little more than a floor with a waist-high semicircular guard in front.
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Encyclopedia

The chariot is a type of horse carriage
Carriage
A carriage is a wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn; litters and sedan chairs are excluded, since they are wheelless vehicles. The carriage is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light,...

 used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts
Bullock cart
A bullock cart or ox cart is a two-wheeled vehicle pulled by oxen . It is a means of transportation used since ancient times in many parts of the world. They are still used today where modern vehicles are too expensive or the infrastructure does not favor them.Used especially for carrying goods,...

, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

 and also built in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled conveyance drawn by two or more horses hitched side by side. The car was little more than a floor with a waist-high semicircular guard in front. The chariot, driven by a charioteer, was used for ancient warfare
Ancient warfare
Ancient warfare is war as conducted from the beginnings of recorded history to the end of the ancient period. In Europe and the Near East, the end of antiquity is often equated with the fall of Rome in 476, and the wars of the Eastern Roman Empire Byzantium in its South Western Asian and North...

 during the Bronze
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

s, armor being provided by shields. The vehicle continued to be used for travel
Travel
Travel is the movement of people or objects between relatively distant geographical locations. 'Travel' can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.-Etymology:...

, processions
Parade
A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind...

 and in game
Game
A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements...

s and races
Chariot racing
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm...

 after it had been superseded for military purposes.

The word "chariot" comes from Latin carrus, which itself was a loan from Gaulish. A chariot of war or of triumph was called a car. In ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and other ancient Mediterranean countries a biga
Biga (chariot)
The biga is the two-horse chariot as used in ancient Rome for sport, transportation, and ceremonies. Other animals may replace horses in art and occasionally for actual ceremonies. The term biga is also used by modern scholars for the similar chariots of other Indo-European cultures, particularly...

was a two-horse chariot, a triga used three horses and a quadriga
Quadriga
A quadriga is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast . It was raced in the Ancient Olympic Games and other contests. It is represented in profile as the chariot of gods and heroes on Greek vases and in bas-relief. The quadriga was adopted in ancient Roman chariot racing...

was drawn by four horses abreast. Obsolete terms for chariot include chair, charet and wain.

The critical invention that allowed the construction of light, horse-drawn chariots for use in battle was the spoke
Spoke
A spoke is one of some number of rods radiating from the center of a wheel , connecting the hub with the round traction surface....

d wheel.
The earliest spoke-wheeled chariots date to ca. 2000 BC and their usage peaked around 1300 BC (see Battle of Kadesh
Battle of Kadesh
The Battle of Kadesh took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now the Syrian Arab Republic....

). Chariots ceased to have military importance in the 4th century BC, but chariot races
Chariot racing
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm...

 continued to be popular in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 until the 6th century AD.

Early wheeled vehicles in Sumer


The horse drawn wheeled vehicle probably originated in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 about 3000 BC. The earliest depiction of vehicles in the context of warfare is on the Standard of Ur
Standard of Ur
The Standard of Ur is a Sumerian artifact excavated from what had been the Royal Cemetery in the ancient city of Ur .-History:...

 in southern Mesopotamia, c. 2500 BC. These are more properly called wagon
Wagon
A wagon is a heavy four-wheeled vehicle pulled by draught animals; it was formerly often called a wain, and if low and sideless may be called a dray, trolley or float....

s or cart
Cart
A cart is a vehicle designed for transport, using two wheels and normally pulled by one or a pair of draught animals. A handcart is pulled or pushed by one or more people...

s, still double-axled and pulled by oxen or tamed asses before the introduction of horses c. 2000 BC. Although sometimes carrying a spearman along with the charioteer (driver), such heavy proto-chariots, borne on solid wooden wheels and covered with skins, may have been part of the baggage train (e.g., during royal funeral processions) rather than vehicles of battle in themselves. The Sumerians had also a lighter, two-wheeled type of cart, pulled by four asses, but still with solid wheels. The spoked wheel did not appear in Mesopotamia until the mid-2000s BC.

Early Indo-Iranians


The earliest fully developed true chariots known are from the chariot burial
Chariot burial
Chariot burials are tombs in which the deceased was buried together with his chariot, usually including his horses and other possessions....

s of the Andronovo
Andronovo culture
The Andronovo culture, is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished ca. 21200–1400 BCE in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. It is probably better termed an archaeological complex or archaeological horizon...

 (Timber-Grave) sites of the Sintashta-Petrovka Proto-Indo-Iranian culture in modern Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 from around 2000 BC. This culture is at least partially derived from the earlier Yamna culture
Yamna culture
The Yamna culture is a late copper age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region , dating to the 36th–23rd centuries BC...

. It built heavily fortified settlements, engaged in bronze
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 metallurgy on an industrial scale and practiced complex burial rituals reminiscent of Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

 rituals known from the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

and the Avesta. The Sintashta-Petrovka chariot burials yield the earliest spoke-wheeled true chariots. The Andronovo culture
Andronovo culture
The Andronovo culture, is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished ca. 21200–1400 BCE in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. It is probably better termed an archaeological complex or archaeological horizon...

 over the next few centuries spread across the steppes from the Urals to the Tien Shan, likely corresponding to early Indo-Iranian cultures
Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranian peoples are a linguistic group consisting of the Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani peoples; that is, speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family....

 which eventually spread to Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and parts of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in the course of the 2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

.

Chariots figure prominently in Indo-Iranian mythology. Chariots are also an important part of both Hindu
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

 and Persian mythology
Persian mythology
Persian mythology are traditional tales and stories of ancient origin, some involving extraordinary or supernatural beings. Drawn from the legendary past of the Iranian cultural continent which especially consists of the state of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Central Asia, they reflect the...

, with most of the gods in their pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

 portrayed as riding them. The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word for a chariot is ratha, a collective word Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

  for "wheel" from 'to run' that also resulted in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 rota and is also found in Germanic, Celtic and Baltic.

Ancient Near East


Some scholars argue that the chariot was most likely a product of the ancient Near East early in the 2nd millennium BC.

Hittites


The oldest testimony of chariot warfare in the Ancient Near East is the Old Hittite
Hittite language
Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

 Anitta text (18th century BC), mentioning 40 teams of horses (40 ?Í-IM-DÌ ANŠE.KUR.RA?I.A) at the siege of Salatiwara
Salatiwara
Salatiwara was a city of Bronze Age Anatolia. It was besieged by Anitta in the 18th century BC with 1400 infantry and 40 chariots....

. Since only teams are mentioned rather than explicitly chariots, the presence of chariots in the 18th century BC is considered somewhat uncertain. The first certain attestation of chariots in the Hittite Empire dates to the late 17th century BC (Hattusili I
Hattusili I
Hattusili I was a king of the Hittite Old Kingdom. He reigned ca. 1586–1556 BC .He used the title of Labarna at the beginning of his reign...

). A Hittite horse training text survives, attributed to Kikkuli the Mitanni (15th century BC).

The Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 were renowned charioteers. They developed a new chariot design that had lighter wheels, with four spokes rather than eight, and which held three warriors instead of two. It could hold 3 warriors as the wheel was placed in the middle of the chariot and not at the back as in the Egyptian chariots. Hittite prosperity largely depended on their control of trade routes and natural resources, specifically metals. As the Hittites gained dominion over Mesopotamia, tensions
flared among the neighboring Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Hurrians and Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

. Under Suppiluliuma I
Suppiluliuma I
Suppiluliuma I was king of the Hittites . He achieved fame as a great warrior and statesman, successfully challenging the then-dominant Egyptian empire for control of the lands between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates....

, the Hittites conquered Kadesh
Kadesh
This article is about Kadesh in the lands of the Amurru, bordering on Damascus Syria up to Hammath; see also Kadesh or Kedesh Kadesh was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River...

 and eventually the whole of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. The Battle of Kadesh
Battle of Kadesh
The Battle of Kadesh took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now the Syrian Arab Republic....

 in 1274 BC is likely to have been the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving some five thousand chariots.

Egypt




The chariot, together with the horse itself, was introduced to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 by the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

 invaders in the 16th century BC and undoubtedly contributed to their military success. In the remains of Egyptian
Art of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, architecture and other arts produced by the civilization in the lower Nile Valley from 5000 BC to 300 AD. Ancient Egyptian art reached a high level in painting and sculpture, and was both highly stylized and symbolic...

 and Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n art there are numerous representations of chariots, from which it may be seen with what richness they were sometimes ornamented. The chariots of the Egyptians and Assyrians, with whom the bow was the principal arm of attack, were richly mounted with quivers full of arrows. The Egyptians invented the yoke saddle for their chariot horses in c. 1500 BC. The best preserved examples of Egyptian chariots are the four specimens from the tomb of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun , Egyptian , ; approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty , during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom...

.

Persia




The Persians succeeded Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

 in the mid 1st millennium. They may have been the first to yoke four horses (rather than two) to their chariots. They also used scythed chariots. Cyrus the Younger
Cyrus the Younger
Cyrus the Younger, son of Darius II of Persia and Parysatis, was a Persian prince and general. The time of his birth is unknown, but he died in 401 B.C. The history of Cyrus and of the retreat of the Greeks is told by Xenophon in his Anabasis. Another account, probably from Sophaenetus of...

 employed these chariots in large numbers. Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 mentions that the Libyans and the Indus
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 satrapy supplied cavalry and chariots to Xerxes the Great's army. However, by this time cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 was far more effective and agile than the chariot, and the defeat of Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the ancient Macedonians and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.-Location:Darius chose a flat, open plain...

 (331 BC), where the army of Alexander simply opened their lines and let the chariots pass and attacked them from behind, marked the end of the era of chariot warfare.

Chariots in the Bible

See also Merkabah
Merkabah
Merkabah is the throne-chariot of God, the four-wheeled vehicle driven by four "chayot" , each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle...

.

Chariots are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, particularly by the prophets, as instruments of war or as symbols of power or glory. First mentioned in the story of Joseph
Joseph (Hebrew Bible)
Joseph is an important character in the Hebrew bible, where he connects the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Canaan to the subsequent story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt....

 (Genesis 50:9), "Iron chariots
Iron chariots
The Hebrew Bible mentions iron chariots in the following contexts:The perceived incongruity of these passages inspired the 1921 expedition by archaeologist and University of Pennsylvania museum curator Clarence Stanley Fisher , in which he traveled to the Holy Land seeking physical evidence of...

" are mentioned also in Joshua
Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....

 (17:16,18) and Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

 (1:19,4:3,13) as weapons of the Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ites. 1 Samuel
Books of Samuel
The Books of Samuel in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, , a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah under the guidance of the prophets.Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by...

 13:5 mentions chariots of the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

, who are sometimes identified with the Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

 or early Greeks
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

. Such examples from the KJV here include: And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, which he placed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem. And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
  • Song of Solomon
    Song of Solomon
    The Song of Songs of Solomon, commonly referred to as Song of Songs or Song of Solomon, is a book of the Hebrew Bible—one of the megillot —found in the last section of the Tanakh, known as the Ketuvim...

     1:9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
  • Ezekiel
    Book of Ezekiel
    The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

     26:10 By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.
  • Isaiah
    Book of Isaiah
    The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

     2:7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.
  • Jeremiah
    Book of Jeremiah
    The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

     4:13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are ruined.
  • Acts 8:37-38 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.


Jezreel (city)
Jezreel (city)
Jezreel was an ancient Israelite city and fortress originally within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar, and later within the northern Kingdom of Israel. According to the Book of Kings, the royal palace of King Ahab in Jezreel was adjacent to the vineyard of Naboth...

 has been identified as the chariot base of King Ahab
Ahab
Ahab or Ach'av or Achab in Douay-Rheims was king of Israel and the son and successor of Omri according to the Hebrew Bible. His wife was Jezebel....

. And the decorated lynchpin of Sisera
Sisera
Sisera was commander of the Canaanite army of King Jabin of Hazor mentioned in the of the Hebrew Bible. After being defeated by Barak, Sisera was killed by Jael, who hammered a tent peg into his temple....

's chariot was identified at a site identified as his fortress Harosheth Haggoyim
Harosheth Haggoyim
Harosheth Haggoyim is a fortress described in the Book of Judges as the fortress or cavalry base of Sisera, commander of the army of "Jabin, King of Canaan.Sisera is described as having had nine hundred iron chariots with which he fought the Israelites...

.

India


Chariots figure prominently in the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, evidencing their presence in India in the 2nd millennium BC. They were most likely brought to the region by the Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

-speaking migrants from Central Asia, probably derived in part from their moving wagons. Among Rigvedic deities
Rigvedic deities
There are 1028 hymns in the Rigveda, most of them dedicated to specific deities.Indra, a heroic god, slayer of Vrtra and destroyer of the Vala, liberator of the cows and the rivers; Agni the sacrificial fire and messenger of the gods; and Soma the ritual drink dedicated to Indra are the most...

, notably Ushas
Ushas
Ushas , Sanskrit for "dawn", is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well.Sanskrit is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is . It is from PIE , cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora....

 (the dawn) rides in a chariot, as well as Agni
Agni
Agni is a Hindu deity, one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices. The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods...

 in his function as a messenger between gods and men.

There are a few depictions of chariots among the petroglyphs in the sandstone of the Vindhya range. Two depictions of chariots are found in Morhana Pahar, Mirzapur
Mirzapur
Mirzapur is a city in the heart of North India, nearly 650 km between Delhi and Kolkata and also equidistant from Allahabad and Varanasi. Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mirzapur has a population of a little over 205,264 and is renowned for its famous carpet and brassware industry...

 district. One is shows a team of two horses, with the head of a single driver visible. The other one is drawn by four horses, has six-spoked wheels, and shows a driver standing up in a large chariot-box. This chariot is being attacked, with a figure wielding a shield and a mace standing at its path, and another figure armed with bow and arrow threatening its right flank. It has been suggested that the drawings record a story, most probably dating to the early centuries BC, from some centre in the area of the Ganges–Yamuna
Yamuna
The Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganges in northern India...

 plain into the territory of still Neolithic hunting tribes. The drawings would then be a representation of foreign technology, comparable to the Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land
The Arnhem Land Region is one of the five regions of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km from the territory capital Darwin. The region has an area of 97,000 km² which also covers the area of Kakadu National...

 Aboriginal
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 rock paintings depicting Westerners. The very realistic chariots carved into the Sanchi
Sanchi
Sanchi is a small village in Raisen District of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, it is located 46 km north east of Bhopal, and 10 km from Besnagar and Vidisha in the central part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the location of several Buddhist monuments dating from the 3rd...

 stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

s are dated to roughly the 1st century.

The scythed chariot
Scythed chariot
The scythed chariot was a war chariot with scythe-like blades mounted on each side, employed in ancient times.-History:The scythed chariot was a modified war chariot. The blades extended horizontally for about to each side of the wheels...

 was invented by the King of Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

, Ajatashatru
Ajatashatru
Ajatasatru was a king of the Magadha empire in north India. He was the son of King Bimbisara, the Great Monarch of Magadha. He was contemporary to Mahavira and Buddha. He took over the kingdom of Magadha from his father forcefully by imprisoning him...

 around 475 BC. He used these chariots against the Licchavis. A scythe
Scythe
A scythe is an agricultural hand tool for mowing grass, or reaping crops. It was largely replaced by horse-drawn and then tractor machinery, but is still used in some areas of Europe and Asia. The Grim Reaper is often depicted carrying or wielding a scythe...

d chariot was a war chariot with a sharp, sickle-shaped blade or blades mounted on each end of the axle
Axle
An axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to its surroundings, with the wheels rotating around the axle. In the former case, bearings or bushings are provided at the mounting points where the axle...

. The blades, used as weapons, extended horizontally for a metre on the sides of the chariot.

China


The earliest known chariot burial site in China, discovered in 1933 at Hougang
Hougang
Hougang is an urban planning area and a suburb in the north-eastern area of the city-state of Singapore. Under classification by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the area is part of the North-East Region, an urban planning division. Hougang borders Sengkang in the north and Serangoon to its...

, Anyang in central China's Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 Province, dates to the rule of King Wu Ding
Wu Ding
Wu Ding was a Shang Dynasty King of China.His is the first historically verifiable name in the history of Chinese dynasties...

 of the late Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 (c. 1200 BC), but with literary evidence of chariot use in ancient China possibly from as early as the Xia Dynasty
Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him...

 (21st-17th century BC). During the Shang Dynasty, members of the royal family were buried with a complete household and servants, including a chariot, horses, and a charioteer. A Shang chariot was often drawn by two horses, but four-horse variants are occasionally found in burials. The crew consisted of an archer, a driver, and sometimes a third armed with a spear or dagger-axe
Dagger-axe
The dagger-axe is a type of weapon that was in use from Shang dynasty until at least Han dynasty China. It consists of a dagger-shaped blade made of jade , bronze, or later iron, mounted by the tang of the dagger to a perpendicular wooden shaft with a spear point...

 known as the róngyòu (戎右). From the 8th to 5th centuries BC, Chinese use of chariots reached its peak. Although they appeared in greater numbers, infantry often defeated them in battle.

Jacques Gernet
Jacques Gernet
Professor Jacques Gernet is an eminent French sinologist of the second half of the 20th century. His best-known work is The Chinese Civilization, a 900 page summary of Chinese history and civilization which has been translated into many languages.Gernet obtained a degree in classics at Algiers in...

 claims that the Zhou dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

, which conquered the Shang, made more use of the chariot than the Shang and "invented a new kind of harness with four horses abreast".

Massed chariot warfare became all but obsolete after the Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 (476-221 BE). The main reasons were increased use of the crossbow
Crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

, the adoption of standard cavalry units, and the adaptation of nomadic cavalry (mounted archery), which were more effective. Chariots would continue to serve as command posts for officers during the Qin and Han Dynasty whilst armored chariots were also used by the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 against the Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

 Confederation in the Sino-Xiongnu War
Sino-Xiongnu War
The Sino-Xiongnu War is a name given to a series of battles between the Han Dynasty and the tribes of Xiongnu between 133 BC and 89 AD. The nature of these battles varied through time between Han conquest and the possession of city-states in central Asia. The war culminated in Geng Kui driving the...

, specifically at the Battle of Mobei
Battle of Mobei
The Battle of Mobei was a military campaign fought in the northern part of the Gobi Desert. It was part of a major strategic offensive launched by the Han Dynasty in January, 119 BC, into the heartland of the nomadic Xiongnu...

.

Eastern Europe


The domestication of the horse was an important step towards civilization, and the clearest evidence of early use of the horse as a means of transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

 is from chariot burials dated c. 2000 BCE. An increasing amount of evidence supports the hypothesis that horses were domesticated in the Eurasian Steppe
Eurasian Steppe
The Eurasian Steppe is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome. It stretches from Hungary to Mongolia...

s (Dereivka
Dereivka
Dereivka is an archaeological site located in the village of the same name in Kirovohrad Oblast, Ukraine, on the right bank of the Dneiper. The site dates to ca. 4500—3500 BC and is associated with the Sredny Stog culture....

 centred in Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

) approximately 4000-3500 BCE.
Also the invention of the wheel most likely took place in Europe, evidence of wheeled vehicles appears from the mid 4th millennium BCE, near-simultaneously in the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture
Maykop culture
The Maykop culture , ca. 3700 BC—2500 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture situated in Southern Russia running from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait nearly to the modern border of Dagestan, centered approximately on the modern Republic of Adygea in the Kuban River valley...

) Central Europe and Mesopotamia.
The earliest well-dated depiction of a wheeled vehicle (here a wagon—four wheels, two axles), is on the Bronocice pot
Bronocice pot
The Bronocice pot is a ceramic vase incised with the earliest known image of what may be a wheeled vehicle. It was dated by the radiocarbon method to 3500-3350 BC and is attributed to the Funnelbeaker archaeological culture...

, a ca. 3500–3350 BCE clay pot excavated in a Funnelbeaker culture
Funnelbeaker culture
The Funnelbeaker culture, short TRB from Trichterbecherkultur is the principal north central European megalithic culture of late Neolithic Europe.- Predecessor and successor cultures :...

 settlement in southern Poland.
In the Armenian Kingdom of Van (Urartu
Urartu
Urartu , corresponding to Ararat or Kingdom of Van was an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland....

), the chariot was used by the nobility and the military. In Erebuni (Yerevan
Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...

), Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 King Argishti of Urartu is depicted riding on a chariot which is dragged by two horses. The chariot has two wheels and each wheel has about eight spokes. This type of chariot was used around 800 BC.

Northern Europe



The Trundholm sun chariot
Trundholm sun chariot
The Trundholm sun chariot , is a late Nordic Bronze Age artifact discovered in Denmark. It is a representatino of the sun chariot, a bronze statue of a horse and a large bronze disk, which are placed on a device with spoked wheels....

 is dated to c. 1400 BC (see Nordic Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
The Nordic Bronze Age is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of...

). The horse drawing the solar disk runs on four wheels, and the Sun itself on two. All wheels have four spokes. The "chariot" consists solely of the solar disk, the axle, and the wheels, and it is unclear if the sun is imagined as being itself a chariot, or as riding in a chariot. The presence of a model of a horse-drawn vehicle
Horse-drawn vehicle
A horse-drawn vehicle is a mechanized piece of equipment pulled by one horse or by a team of horses. These vehicles typically had two or four wheels and were used to carry passengers and/or a load...

 on two spoked wheels in Northern Europe at such an early time is in any case astonishing.

In addition to the Trundholm chariot, there are a number of petroglyph
Petroglyph
Petroglyphs are pictogram and logogram images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images...

s from the Nordic Bronze Age showing chariots, such as on one of the slabs of stone in a double burial
The King's Grave
The King's Grave near Kivik in the southeastern portion of the Swedish province of Skåne is what remains of an unusually grand Nordic Bronze Age double burial c...

 from c. 1000 BC, showing a chariot with two four-spoked wheels drawn by a team of two horses.

The use of the composite bow
Composite bow
A composite bow is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow...

 from chariots is not attested in northern Europe.

Central Europe and Britain and Ireland


The Celts were famous chariot-makers, and the English word car is believed to be derived, via Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 carrum, from Gaulish karros (English chariot itself is from 13th century French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 charriote, an augmentative of the same word). Some 20 Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 chariot burial
Chariot burial
Chariot burials are tombs in which the deceased was buried together with his chariot, usually including his horses and other possessions....

s have been excavated in Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, dating roughly from between 500 BC and 100 BC, virtually all of them in East Yorkshire
East Yorkshire
East Yorkshire could be:*East Yorkshire Motor Services*An alternative name for the East Riding of Yorkshire*East Yorkshire , a former district of Humberside*East Yorkshire...

, with the exception of one find of 2001 from Newbridge
Newbridge, Edinburgh
Newbridge is a suburb of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It is south of Kirkliston. Newbridge had a total population of 1,013 at the 2001 Census.-Local amenities:...

, 10 km west of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

.

The Celtic chariot (may have been called carpentom) was drawn by a team of two horses, and measured approximately 2 m (6.56 ft) in width and 4 m (13 ft) in length. The one-piece iron rims for chariot wheels were probably a Celtic invention. Apart from the iron wheel rims and iron fittings of the hub, it was constructed from wood and wicker-work. In some instances, iron rings reinforced the joints. Another Celtic innovation was the free-hanging axle, suspended from the platform with rope. This resulted in a much more comfortable ride on bumpy terrain. There is evidence from French coins of a leather 'suspension' system for the central box, and a complex system of knotted cords for its attachment; this has informed recent working reconstructions by archaeologists.

British chariots were open in front. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 provides the only significant eyewitness report of British chariot warfare: "XXXIII.--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."

Chariots play an important role in Irish mythology
Irish mythology
The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle. There are...

 surrounding the hero Cú Chulainn
Cú Chulainn
Cú Chulainn or Cúchulainn , and sometimes known in English as Cuhullin , is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore...

. The Celts in the Bronze Age used an ancient four-spoked wheel design called a sun cross
Sun cross
The sun cross, also known as the wheel cross, Odin's cross, or Woden's cross, a cross inside a circle, is a common symbol in artifacts of the Americas and Prehistoric Europe, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods.-Stone Age:...

or wheel cross to represent the chariot of the sun.


Chariots could also be used for ceremonial purposes. According to Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 (Annals
Annals (Tacitus)
The Annals by Tacitus is a history of the reigns of the four Roman Emperors succeeding Caesar Augustus. The surviving parts of the Annals extensively cover most of the reigns of Tiberius and Nero. The title Annals was probably not given by Tacitus, but derives from the fact that he treated this...

14.35), Boudica
Boudica
Boudica , also known as Boadicea and known in Welsh as "Buddug" was queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire....

, queen of the Iceni
Iceni
The Iceni or Eceni were a British tribe who inhabited an area of East Anglia corresponding roughly to the modern-day county of Norfolk between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD...

 and a number of other tribes in a formidable uprising against the occupying Roman forces, addressed her troops from a chariot in AD 61:
"Boudicca curru filias prae se vehens, ut quamque nationem accesserat, solitum quidem Britannis feminarum ductu bellare testabatur"

Boudicca, with her daughters before her in a chariot, went up to tribe after tribe, protesting that it was indeed usual for Britons to fight under the leadership of women.


The last mention of chariotry in battle seems to be at the Battle of Mons Graupius
Battle of Mons Graupius
According to Tacitus, the Battle of Mons Graupius took place in AD 83 or, less probably, 84. Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman governor and Tacitus' father-in-law, had sent his fleet ahead to panic the Caledonians, and, with light infantry reinforced with British auxiliaries, reached the site,...

, somewhere in modern Scotland, in AD 84. From Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 (Agricola 1.35 -36) "The plain between resounded with the noise and with the rapid movements of chariots and cavalry." The chariots did not win even their initial engagement with the Roman auxiliaries: "Meantime the enemy's cavalry had fled, and the charioteers had mingled in the engagement of the infantry."

Southern Europe


The earliest records of chariots are the arsenal inventories of the Mycenaean
Helladic period
Helladic is a modern archaeological term meant to identify a sequence of periods characterizing the culture of mainland ancient Greece during the Bronze Age. The term is commonly used in archaeology and art history...

 palaces, as described in Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 tablets from the 15th-14th centuries BC. The tablets distinguish between "assembled" and "disassembled" chariots.

Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 reports that chariots were widely used in the Pontic
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

-Caspian
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 steppe by the Sigynnae
Sigynnae
The Sigynnae were an obscure people of antiquity. They are variously located by ancient authors.According to Herodotus , they dwelt beyond the Danube, and their frontiers extended almost as far as the Eneti on the Adriatic. Their horses were small and flat-nosed with shaggy long hair, five fingers...

.

The only Etruscan chariot found intact dates to c. 530 BC, and was uncovered as part of a chariot burial
Chariot burial
Chariot burials are tombs in which the deceased was buried together with his chariot, usually including his horses and other possessions....

 at Monteleone di Spoleto
Monteleone di Spoleto
Monteleone di Spoleto , is a town and comune of Italy, in the province of Perugia in southeast Umbria at 978 meters above sea-level overhanging the upper valley of the Corno River...

. Currently in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

, it is decorated with bronze plates decorated with detailed low-relief scenes, commonly interpreted as depicting episodes from the life of Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

. Possibly unique to Etruscan chariots, the Monteleone chariot's wheels have nine spokes. As part of a chariot burial, the Monteleone chariot may have been intended primarily for ceremonial use and may not be representative of Etruscan chariots in general.

Greece


The classical Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 had a (still not very effective) cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 arm, and the rocky terrain of the Greek mainland
Geography of Greece
Greece is a country located in Southern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. Greece is surrounded on the north by Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania; to the west by the Ionian Sea; to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and to the east by the Aegean Sea and Turkey...

 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
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

. Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 tablets from Mycenaean
Helladic period
Helladic is a modern archaeological term meant to identify a sequence of periods characterizing the culture of mainland ancient Greece during the Bronze Age. The term is commonly used in archaeology and art history...

 palaces record large inventories of chariots, sometimes with specific details as to how many chariots were assembled or not (i.e. stored in modular form). Later the vehicles were used in games and processions, notably for races at the Olympic and Panathenaic Games
Panathenaic Games
The Panathenaic Games were held every four years in Athens in Ancient Greece since 566 BC. They continued into the third century AD. These Games incorporated religious festival, ceremony , athletic competitions, and cultural events hosted within a stadium.-Religious festival:The games were part of...

 and other public festivals in ancient Greece, in hippodrome
Hippodrome
A hippodrome was a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. The name is derived from the Greek words "hippos and "dromos"...

s
and in contests called agon
Agon
Agon is an ancient Greek word with several meanings:*In one sense, it meant a contest, competition, especially the Olympic Games , or challenge that was held in connection with religious festivals....

s
. They were also used in ceremonial functions, as when a paranymph
Paranymph
A paranymph is a ceremonial assistant and or the right hand of Lada coach in a ceremony. In ancient Greek weddings the bride and bridegroom were attended by paranymphs, and from this use it has been generalized to refer to attendants of doctoral students, best men and bridesmaids in weddings and...

, or friend of a bridegroom, went with him in a chariot to fetch the bride home.

Greek chariots were made to be drawn by two horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s 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 vase
Vase
The vase is an open container, often used to hold cut flowers. It can be made from a number of materials including ceramics and glass. The vase is often decorated and thus used to extend the beauty of its contents....

s in the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 from the Panathenaic Games
Panathenaic Games
The Panathenaic Games were held every four years in Athens in Ancient Greece since 566 BC. They continued into the third century AD. These Games incorporated religious festival, ceremony , athletic competitions, and cultural events hosted within a stadium.-Religious festival:The games were part of...

 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
Axle
An axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to its surroundings, with the wheels rotating around the axle. In the former case, bearings or bushings are provided at the mounting points where the axle...

 (called beam) connecting the two wheels. There was no suspension
Suspension (vehicle)
Suspension is the term given to the system of springs, shock absorbers and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels. Suspension systems serve a dual purpose — contributing to the car's roadholding/handling and braking for good active safety and driving pleasure, and keeping vehicle occupants...

, making this an uncomfortable form of transport. At the front and sides of the basket was a semicircular guard about 3 ft (1 m) high, to give some protection from enemy attack. 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 central pole was probably attached to the middle of the axle, though it appears to spring from the front of the basket. At the end of the pole was the yoke
Yoke
A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; some yokes are fitted to individual animals. There are several types of yoke, used in different cultures, and for different types of oxen...

, which consisted of two small saddles
Horse tack
Tack is a term used to describe any of the various equipment and accessories worn by horses in the course of their use as domesticated animals. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horse tack...

 fitting the necks of the horses, and fastened by broad bands round the chest. Besides this the harness of each horse consisted of a bridle
Bridle
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit....

 and a pair of rein
Rein
Reins are items of horse tack, used to direct a horse or other animal used for riding or driving. Reins can be made of leather, nylon, metal, or other materials, and attach to a bridle via either its bit or its noseband.-Use for riding:...

s.

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
Horse collar
A horse collar is a part of a horse harness device used to distribute load around a horse's neck and shoulders when pulling a wagon or plow. The collar often supports and pads a pair of curved metal or wood pieces, called hames, to which the traces of the harness are attached...

 bands or yoke, and were long enough to be tied round the waist of the charioteer to allow for defence.

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.

Most other nations of this time had chariots of similar design to the Greeks, the chief differences being the mountings.

According to Greek mythology the chariot was invented by Erichthonius of Athens
Erichthonius of Athens
King Erichthonius was a mythological early ruler of ancient Athens, Greece. He was, according to some legends, autochthonous and raised by the goddess Athena. Early Greek texts do not distinguish between him and Erectheus, his grandson, but by the fourth century B.C...

 to conceal his feet, which were those of a dragon.

The most notable appearance of the chariot in Greek mythology occurs when Phaëton
Phaëton
In Greek mythology, Phaëton or Phaethon was the son of Helios and the Oceanid Clymene. Alternate, less common genealogies make him a son of Clymenus by Merope, of Helios and Rhode or of Helios and Prote....

, the son of Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

, in an attempt to drive the chariot of the sun, managed to set the earth on fire. 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
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, in his Chariot Allegory
Chariot Allegory
Plato, in his dialogue Phaedrus , uses the Chariot Allegory to explain his view of the human soul. He does this in the dialogue through the character of Socrates, who uses it in a discussion of the merit of Love as "divine madness"....

, 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 Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word for chariot, ἅρμα, hárma, is also used nowadays to denote a tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

, properly called άρμα μάχης, árma mákhēs, literally a "combat chariot".

Rome



The Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 probably borrowed chariot racing from the Etruscans, who would themselves have borrowed it either from the Celts or from the Greeks, but the Romans were also influenced directly by the Greeks especially after they conquered mainland Greece in 146 BC. In the Roman Empire, chariots were not used for warfare, but for chariot racing
Chariot racing
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm...

, especially in circi
Circus (building)
The Roman circus was a large open-air venue used for public events in the ancient Roman Empire. The circuses were similar to the ancient Greek hippodromes, although serving varying purposes. Along with theatres and amphitheatres, Circuses were one of the main entertainment sites of the time...

, or for triumphal processions, when they could be drawn by as many as ten horses or even by dogs, tigers, or ostriches. There were four divisions, or factiones, of charioteers, distinguished by the colour of their costumes: the red, blue, green and white teams. The main centre of chariot racing was the Circus Maximus
Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire...

, situated in the valley between the Palatine
Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city...

 and Aventine
Aventine Hill
The Aventine Hill is one of the seven hills on which ancient Rome was built. It belongs to Ripa, the twelfth rione, or ward, of Rome.-Location and boundaries:The Aventine hill is the southernmost of Rome's seven hills...

 Hills in Rome. The track could hold 12 chariots, and the two sides of the track were separated by a raised median termed the spina. Chariot races continued to enjoy great popularity in Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 times, in the Hippodrome of Constantinople
Hippodrome of Constantinople
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with only a few fragments of the original structure surviving...

, even after the Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 had been disbanded, until their decline after the Nika riots
Nika riots
The Nika riots , or Nika revolt, took place over the course of a week in Constantinople in AD 532. It was the most violent riot that Constantinople had ever seen to that point, with nearly half the city being burned or destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed.-Background:The ancient Roman...

 in the 6th century.The starting gates were known as the Carceres.

An ancient Roman car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast together with the horses drawing it was called a Quadriga
Quadriga
A quadriga is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast . It was raced in the Ancient Olympic Games and other contests. It is represented in profile as the chariot of gods and heroes on Greek vases and in bas-relief. The quadriga was adopted in ancient Roman chariot racing...

, from the Latin quadrijugi (of a team of four). The term sometimes meant instead the four horses without the chariot or the chariot alone. A three-horse chariot, or the three-horse team drawing it, was a triga, from trijugi (of a team of three).

See also

  • Chariot burial
    Chariot burial
    Chariot burials are tombs in which the deceased was buried together with his chariot, usually including his horses and other possessions....

  • Chariot racing
    Chariot racing
    Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm...

  • Chariot tactics
    Chariot tactics
    The first depictions of four-wheeled wagons pulled by semi-domesticated onagers and other available animals come from the Sumerians.Against infantry the fast chariots used tactics of wearing down the enemy by missile fire, deploying heavy troops and running down enemies.The next step was towards...

  • Merkaba
  • Ratha
    Ratha
    Ratha is the Indo-Iranian term for the spoked-wheel chariot of Antiquity.It derives from a collective to a Proto-Indo-European word for "wheel" that also resulted in Latin rota and is also known from Germanic, Celtic and Baltic...

     Sanskrit name for chariot
  • Tachanka
    Tachanka
    The tachanka was a horse-drawn machine gun platform, usually a cart or an open wagon with a heavy machine gun installed in the back. A tachanka could be pulled by two to four horses and required a crew of two or three...

  • Tanks
  • Temple car
    Temple car
    Temple cars are chariots used to carry representations of Hindu gods. The car is usually used on festival days, when many people pull the cart....

  • War Wagon
    War Wagon
    The war wagon was a medieval development during the Hussite Wars around 1420 by Hussite forces rebelling in Bohemia.It was a heavy wagon given protective sides with firing slits and heavy firepower from either a cannon or a force of hand-gunners and crossbowmen, supported by infantry using pikes...


Further reading

  • Anthony, David W. The Horse, The Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World Princeton: Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    , 2007 (ISBN 9780691058870).
  • Chamberlin, J. Edward. Horse: How the horse has shaped civilizations. N.Y.: United Tribes Media Inc., 2006 (ISBN 0-9742405-9-1).
  • Cotterell, Arthur. Chariot: From chariot to tank, the astounding rise and fall of the world's first war machine. Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press
    The Overlook Press
    The Overlook Press is an American independent publishing house based in New York. It was formed in 1971 by Peter Mayer, who had previously worked at Avon and Penguin Books, where he was CEO from 1978 to 1998. A general-interest publisher, Overlook has over one thousand titles in print, including...

    , 2005 (ISBN 1-58567-667-5).
  • Crouwel, Joost H. Chariots and other means of land transport in Bronze Age Greece (Allard Pierson Series, 3). Amsterdam: Allard Pierson Museum
    Allard Pierson Museum
    The Allard Pierson Museum is the archaeological museum of the University of Amsterdam. It is situated at the Oude Turfmarkt 127 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands...

    , 1981 (ISBN 90-71211-03-7).
  • Crouwel, Joost H. Chariots and other wheeled vehicles in Iron Age Greece (Allard Pierson Series, 9). Amsterdam: Allard Pierson Museum:, 1993 (ISBN 90-71211-21-5).
  • Drews, Robert. The coming of the Greeks: Indo-European conquests in the Aegean and the Near East. Princeton: Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    , 1988 (hardcover, ISBN 0-691-03592-X); 1989 (paperback, ISBN 0-691-02951-2).
  • Drews, Robert. The end of the Bronze Age: Changes in warfare and the catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993 (hardcover, ISBN 0-691-04811-8); 1995 (paperback, ISBN 0-691-02591-6).
  • Drews, Robert. Early riders: The beginnings of mounted warfare in Asia and Europe. N.Y.: Routledge
    Routledge
    Routledge is a British publishing house which has operated under a succession of company names and latterly as an academic imprint. Its origins may be traced back to the 19th-century London bookseller George Routledge...

    , 2004 (ISBN 0-415-32624-9).
  • Fields, Nic; Brian Delf (illustrator). Bronze Age War Chariots (New Vanguard). Oxford; New York: Osprey Publishing
    Osprey Publishing
    Osprey Publishing is an Oxford-based publishing company specializing in military history. Predominantly an illustrated publisher, many of their books contain full-colour artwork plates, maps and photographs, and the company produces over a dozen ongoing series, each focusing on a specific aspect of...

    , 2006 (ISBN 978-1841769448).
  • Greenhalg, P A L. Early Greek warfare; horsemen and chariots in the Homeric and Archaic Ages. Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 1973. (ISBN 9780521200561).
  • Kulkarni, Raghunatha Purushottama. Visvakarmiya Rathalaksanam: Study of Ancient Indian Chariots: with a historical note, references, Sanskrit text, and translation in English. Delhi: Kanishka Publishing House, 1994 (ISBN 978-8173-91004-3)
  • Littauer, Mary A.; Crouwel, Joost H. Chariots and related equipment from the tomb of Tutankhamun (Tutankhamun's Tomb Series, 8). Oxford: The Griffith Institute
    Griffith Institute
    The Griffith Institute is an institution based in the Ashmolean Museum of the University of Oxford for the advancement of Egyptology as a discipline. The Griffith Institute is named after the eminent Egyptologist Francis Llewellyn Griffith, who bequeathed funds within his will for the foundation of...

    , 1985 (ISBN 0-900416-39-4).
  • Littauer, Mary A.; Crouwel, Joost H.; Raulwing, Peter (Editor). Selected writings on chariots and other early vehicles, riding and harness (Culture and history of the ancient Near East, 6). Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002 (ISBN 90-04-11799-7).
  • Moorey, P.R.S. "The Emergence of the Light, Horse-Drawn Chariot in the Near-East c. 2000–1500 B.C.", World Archaeology, Vol. 18, No. 2. (1986), pp. 196–215.
  • Piggot, Stuart. The earliest wheeled transport from the Atlantic Coast to the Caspian Sea. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press
    Cornell University Press
    The Cornell University Press, established in 1869 but inactive from 1884 to 1930, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States.A division of Cornell University, it is housed in Sage House, the former residence of Henry William Sage....

    , 1983 (ISBN 0-8014-1604-3).
  • Piggot, Stuart. Wagon, chariot and carriage: Symbol and status in the history of transport. London: Thames & Hudson
    Thames & Hudson
    Thames & Hudson is a publisher of illustrated books on art, architecture, design, and visual culture. With its headquarters in London, England it has a sister company in New York and subsidiaries in Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong...

    , 1992 (ISBN 0-500-25114-2).
  • Pogrebova M. The emergence of chariots and riding in the South Caucasus in Oxford Journal of Archaeology, Volume 22, Number 4, November 2003, pp. 397–409.
  • Raulwing, Peter. Horses, Chariots and Indo-Europeans: Foundations and Methods of Chariotry Research from the Viewpoint of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics. Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2000 (ISBN 9638046260).
  • Sandor, Bela I. The rise and decline of the Tutankhamun-class chariot in Oxford Journal of Archaeology, Volume 23, Number 2, May 2004, pp. 153–175.
  • Sandor, Bela I. Tutankhamun's chariots: Secret treasures of engineering mechanics in Fatigue & Fracture of Engineering Materials & Structures, Volume 27, Number 7, July 2004, pp. 637–646.
  • Sparreboom M. Chariots in the Veda (Memoirs of the Kern Institute, Leiden, 3). Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 1985 (ISBN 90-04-07590-9).

External links