The Standard of Ur has two main panels, which have been named "War" and "Peace." "War" is one of the earliest representations of a Sumerian army, engaged in what is believed to be a border skirmish and its aftermath. Battle scenes include four-wheeled chariots, drawn by teams of some sort of equids (possibly onagers or domestic asses ) trampling enemies (although these solid-wheeled early chariots must have been rather unwieldy in battle, and it is likely that they were used primarily for transport and defense); spearmen clad in armored cloaks; and other infantrymen bearing sickle-like knives or axes. Panels also depict prisoners, wounded, naked, and humiliated, being presented to the king.
A copper statue of a chariot being pulled by four donkeys. It depicts an early form of the wheel, which Sumerians made by pressing two pieces of wood together. The statue is 2.75 inches tall, dates to about 2700 B.C.E., and was found at Tell Agrab in Iraq.
The key influence on the Sumerian military was their poor strategic position. Natural obstacles for defense existed only on their borders to the west (desert) and south (Persian Gulf). When more populous and powerful enemies appeared to their north and east, the Sumerians were susceptible to attack. Surviving artwork and archaeological remains indicate that the Sumerian soldiers used spears and short swords of bronze. They wore bronze helmets and carried large shields. Their armies were not particularly noted but records are sparse.They engaged in siege warfare during their many inter-city wars. Mud brick walls did not stand against determined attackers who had the time to pry out the bricks or pound them to dust.The Sumerians invented chariots and were the first to use them in battle. These early chariots were four-wheeled and pulled by onagers (wild ass), and were not as effective in battle as the later two-wheeled design pulled by horses. Sumerian chariots may have served primarily as fast transports, but surviving artwork suggests that spears or javelins were thrown from them.
This bas-relief from Ashurbanipal’s (669-633 B.C.) palace in Nineveh shows the king riding in his ceremonial chariot. The canopy shows his royalty. The king of Assyria was also high priest and deputy to the god Ashur, their chief deity.
The Egyptians didn't invent the chariot but as things go they did improve upon the idea. To our knowledge, the first reported chariot comes from about 2000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia. This is an interesting fact, but the truth is that it wouldn’t have been possibly if the wheel hadn’t been invented. It is thought that the creation of the wheel is that of a single unknown inventor of the Sumerian culture in Mesopotamia. It was invented sometime around 3500-3000 B.C.E. The chariot paved its way into the Egyptian culture around 1500 B.C.E. The Egyptian chariot was unique in that it was constructed to be handsome and light in weight. This was probably due to a lack of wood along the Nile River.
The chariots were better designed than their predecessor of the Assyrians was. The Egyptians designed the chariot with the human standing directly over the axle of the chariot. By accomplishing this there was less stress put on the horse(s) because the rider’s weight was distributed to the chariot than to the horse.
The Hittite chariots were substantial when compared to the rattan vehicles of the Egyptians. The axle was placed in such a way that it made the Hittite chariot less maneuverable than that of the Egyptian chariots. Some modern sources reject this and state that they were equally maneuverable as their Egyptian vehicles. One thing is clear though and that is the Hittite chariots were of wood and not rattan. Each chariot was drawn by two horses.
Arms and Armor of the Chariots
The Hittite fighting men on the chariot would not dismount. The fighting crewman would have at best scale armor and a helmet. For fighting weapons he would use occasionally a bow, a long spear and javelins with some kind of sword as a side arm. Shields might be part of the chariot stock equipment as well. The driver may have been armored or not.
The Chariot Race
In ancient Greece, one of the most gripping—and dangerous—athletic events for both horses and men was the chariot race, a sport that dates back at least to 700 BC. Spectators gathered to watch as horse teams pulled drivers in two-wheeled carts around a track with a hairpin turn at each end.
Chariot races were held in a specially built arena, or hippodrome, with posts marking the turning points. As many as 10 chariots raced at a time, each pulled by two- or four-horse teams.
Each morning at dawn he rises from the ocean in the east and rides in his chariot, pulled by four horses - Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon -- through the sky, to descend at night in the west. Helios once allowed Phaeton to guide his chariot across the sky. The unskilled youth could not control the horses and fell towards his death.
PHAETHON was a young son of Helios and Klymene who begged his father to let him drive the chariot of the sun. The Sun-god reluctantly conceded to the boy's wishes and handed him the reigns. However, the inexperienced Phaethon quickly lost control of the immortal steeds, and the sun-chariot veered out of control setting the earth aflame, scorching the plains of Africa to desert. Zeus was appalled by the destruction and struck the boy from the chariot with a thunderbolt, hurling his flaming body into the waters of the river Eridanos. His sisters, the Heliades, gathered on the banks, and in their mourning with transformed into amber-teared poplar trees.
After his death Phaethon was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Auriga ("the Charioteer"), or else transformed into the god of the star which the Greeks called Phaethon--the planet Jupiter or Saturn. The name Phaethon means "the shining" or "radiant one," derived from the verb phaethô, "to shine."
Somewhere between 900 and 800 BC, the Italian peninsula was settled by a mysterious peoples called the Etruscans. We don't know where the Etruscans came from, but archaeologists suspect that they came from the eastern Mediterannean, possibly Asia Minor. We will, however, never really know where they came from or why they colonized Italy. We do know that when they came to Italy, they brought civilization and urbanization with them. They founded their civilizations in north-eastern Italy between the Appenine mountain range and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Their civilization stretched from the Arno river in the north to the Tiber river towards the center of the Italian peninsula; it was on the Tiber river that a small village of Latins, the village that would become Rome, sat. So the Romans, who were only villagers during the rise of the Etruscan civilization, were in close contact with the Etruscans, their language, their ideas, their religion, and their civilization; the Etruscans were the single most important influence on Roman culture in its transition to civilization.
The first-century CE satirist Juvenal wrote, “Long ago the people shed their anxieties, ever since we do not sell our votes to anyone. For the people—who once conferred imperium, symbols of office, legions, everything—now hold themselves in check and anxiously desire only two things, the grain dole and chariot races in the Circus” (Satires 10.77-81). Juvenal's famous phrase, panem et circenses (“bread and circuses”) has become proverbial to describe those who give away significant rights in exchange for material pleasures. Juvenal has put his finger on two of the most important aspects of Roman chariot races—their immense popularity and the pleasure they gave the Roman people, and the political role they played during the empire in diverting energies that might otherwise have gone into rioting and other forms of popular unrest.
Celtic chariots were a form of warfare that the Romans had serious problems with. It took them some time to find a way of dealing' with the devastating the effect the chariot had. Polybius, in his accounts of the lead up to the battle of Telamon in 225 BC., reports that the Gauls had 20,000 cavalry and chariots. This was the last reference to the use of chariots on the mainland. By the time Caesar encountered them in Britain, the method of fighting against the chariot had been forgotten. Diodorus said that the chariot was drawn by two horses, and could carry a driver and a warrior. In battle the driver controlled the chariot, whilst the warrior would throw javelins at his opponents. The warrior would then dismount and fight on foot while the driver would take the chariot away to a safe distance. At the first sign of difficulties, the driver would dash into the battle, pick up the warrior, and withdraw to safety. Caesar's account is similar, but adds that chariots were used against cavalry with great effect, and only against infantry in short skirmishes. Caesar admired the charioteer's skills, and described warriors running along the chariot pole and standing on the yoke over the horse's shoulders
Analysing "Celtic" chariots by using Iron Age archaeological material and Early Medieval Irish texts might seem to be more than just one step too far in breaking down boundaries. Considering the huge chronological and geographical gaps between the sources, the objections raised against the concept of "Celticity" by Celtosceptics, and the antinativist school of thought in Irish literature, such an approach might look like outright nonsense to many archaeologists and scholars in medieval literature alike. Using a "functional" method according to the new Viennese approach to Celtic Studies, to allow cross-disciplinary comparison of archaeological, historical, iconographic, legal, linguistic, literary and numismatic sources, it can be argued that, however obvious the above objections might seem to be, they nonetheless are unjustified. By developing independent functional models for Iron Age and Early Medieval chariots, a close match between the two can be demonstrated, and comparison with "non-Celtic" models shows that they also are characteristic. Having thus established a solid connection, new interpretational possibilities become available: Iron Age chariot finds can be used to reconstruct Early Medieval Irish chariots, which are mostly absent from the archaeological record, while in their turn the Irish texts allow us valuable insights into Iron Age chariotry. Thus, interpreting Iron Age chariots in the light of medieval texts and vice versa is not a step too far in breaking down boundaries, but an absolute necessity for any serious research of this topic.
Find out about East Anglia’s very own Queen Boudica and her Iceni tribe. Admire breathtaking displays of Iceni treasure and 2000 year old gold torcs or neck bands. Climb aboard a re-creation of an Iceni chariot and see what it was like to ride into battle against the Romans.
Boudicca of the Iceni was a true warrior queen. In AD 60-61, she inspired and led the largest revolt against Roman rule in Britain. Details of her life are sketchy but Boudicca is still celebrated as someone who stood up against foreign oppression. What motivated her to take on the might of the Roman empire?
Chariots were still being used throughout the Achaemenid period in a number of different roles. Foreign contingents still maintained their use, however Persian's military use was now limited to that of a command vehicle, with a number of exceptions.
Although the chariot was not longer the main offensive arm it was still seen as a symbol of authority and power. Generals would still use them in cultural and military parades, for hunting and to transport themselves to battle.
No only is Xerxes recorded as being carried in a chariot during his invasion of Greece but he also took with him the sacred chariot of Ahura-Madza. The golden solar chariot that was dedicated to the one great god. It was pulled by eight white horses with the charioteer walking behind holding the reins as no mortal was allowed to ride in it.
In Xerxes invasion of Greece, both the Indian and Libyan contingents were said to have brought a chariot force.
Probably the most specialised chariot use was that of the scythed chariot which Xenophon described as used by Cyrus the Great.
Cyrus the Great, according to Xenophon, would never refuse two gifts, horses and good weapons. He captured many chariots but considered them an inefficient use of horse and human resources. " He abolished this system in favour of the war-chariot proper, with strong wheels to resist the shock of collision, and long axles, on the principle that a broad base is the firmer, while the driver's seat was changed into what might be called a turret, stoutly built with timber and reaching up to the elbow, leaving the driver room to manage the horses above the rim. The driver's themselves were all fully armed, only their eyes uncovered. He had iron scythes about two feet long attached to the axles on either side, and others, under the tree, pointing to the ground, for use in a charge. Such was the type of chariot invented by Cyrus, and it is still in use to-day among the subjects of the Great King."
Cyrus is said to have fielded a force of 300 Chariots divided into 3 commands of 100 against Croesus. One hundred of his own, a hundred from his Assyrian ally Abradatas of Susa and a hundred converted from the old Median chariots.
There is debate about whether the Scythed chariot were used by the Early Achaemenid Persians, Xenophon is the only reference to their use by Cyrus the Great and they do not appear to have been used by Darius or Xerxes in their campaigns against Greece.
In support of Xenophon, scythed chariots are recorded on both sides of the battle at Cunaxa 401B.C. The difficulty of transporting them overseas in the invasion of Greece. Four horses, and the carriage would not only take up valuable space on board a boat but also when the army was in march, the presence of numerous chariots would greatly lengthen the army's march formation. This could cause delays was well as making it harder to defend against attack when on the march.. They would be useless in any attacks on cities or fortifications. And finally they inclusion or not in the army would be dependent on the individual preferences of the King or commander.
Indian armies contained many flags and banners and used horns and drums to help transmit orders. Chariots were given the position of honour, perhaps because of their association with the conquering Aryans, with the second place given to elephants. Each chariot would have a charioteer and an archer and was usually drawn by two horses. There are representations of larger vehicles drawn by four or even six horses but it is not clear that these were for use on the battlefield. Elephants were ridden by a mahout and perhaps two or three warriors riding astride or in a wooden castle, armed with weapons such as bows, spears and javelins.
The weapons included the bow and the arrow, swords, mace, spear and dagger. This is seen as the bloodiest wars of Indian history with largest number of people dying in a single day. Several war tactics like the chakravyuha ( encircling the enemy in large circle and killing it), kamal vyuha ( lotus formation), etc were used in this war. Abhimanyu, knew the tactic of breaking chakravyuha, but he did not know the tactic of getting out of one, therefore, though he ended up saving army from chakravyuha, could not get out of it and was killed, Arjuna in a fit of rage killed almost thousands in a day alone.
This war was also known as the dharmayuddha (ethical war) and therefore laid down ethical rules for the war. There was no battle after the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas ruled the country in peace. There were only ten survivors of the war, five pandavas, Krishna and Satyaki, and three on the Kaurava side, Ashwathama, Kripa and Kritavarma.
Then Pallas, assuming the form of Deiphobus, Hector's bravest brother, appeared suddenly at his side. Hector saw him with delight, and thus strengthened, stopped his flight, and, turning to meet Achilles, threw his spear. It struck the shield of Achilles and bounded back. He turned to receive another from the hand of Deiphobus, but Deiphobus was gone. Then Hector understood his doom and said, "Alas ! it is plain this is my hour to die! I thought Deiphobus at hand, but Pallas deceived me, and he is still in Troy. But I will not fall inglorious." So saying he drew his falchion from his side and rushed at once to combat. Achilles, secure behind his shield, waited the approach of Hector. When he came within reach of his spear, Achilles, choosing with his eye a vulnerable part where the armor leaves the neck uncovered, aimed his spear at that part, and Hector fell, death-wounded. Feebly he said, "Spare my body! Let my parents ransom it, and let me receive funeral rites from the sons and daughters of Troy." To which Achilles replied, "Dog, name not ransom nor pity to me, on whom you have brought such dire distress. No! trust me, nought shall save thy carcass from the dogs. Though twenty ransoms and thy weight in gold were offered, I should refuse it all."
Achilles drags the Body of Hector
So saying, the son of Peleus stripped the body of its armor, and, fastening cords to the feet, tied them behind his chariot, leaving the body to trail along the ground. Then mounting the chariot he lashed the steeds and so dragged the body to and fro before the city. No words can tell the grief of Priam and Hecuba at this sight. His people could scarce restrain the aged king from rushing forth. He threw himself in the dust and besought them each by name to let him pass. Flecuba's distress was not less violent. The citizens stood round them weeping. The sound of the mourning reached the ears of Andromache, the wife of Hector, as she sat among her maidens at work; and anticipating evil she went forth to the wall. When he saw the horror there presented, she would have thrown herself headlong from the wall, but fainted and fell into the arms of her maidens. Recovering, she bewailed her fate, picturing to herself her country ruined, herself a captive, and her son, the youthful Astyanax, dependent for his bread on the charity of strangers.
The Newbridge chariot was uncovered during an archaeological excavation near the Bronze-Age burial cairn of Huly Hill, at Newbridge, west of Edinburgh in 2001. The Iron-Age chariot was buried intact. It is the only Iron-Age chariot to ever be found in Scotland. It has been radiocarbon dated to the 5th century BC.
Iron-Age chariot burials have been found in England and on the continent.
The excavation was carried out by archaeologists from Headland Archaeology and the National Museum of Scotland.
This is a marvelous discovery - one of those entirely unexpected finds that changes our views on Scotland's past. A chariot like this would be the Ferrari of the Iron Age, and suggests someone important was buried there.
This chariot is unique in Scotland and extremely rare in Britain. The best parallels are in France and Belgium, showing the wide-ranging contacts at the time.
Fraser Hunter, curator, National Museum of Scotland, 2001
Numerous chariot examples survive on Irish high crosses. Chariots played a very large part in early Irish history. The ancient story of Tain bo Cuilagne (cattle raid of Cooley) indicates that the elite fought from 2 wheel chariots. Not only was chariot warfare in effect, but chariot racing was also a form of entertainment. The Irish story, The Curse of Macha, weaves a tale in which a 9 month pregnant Macha runs a race against the kings chariot to prove her husbands bragging as true. She wishes to hold off on the race until the baby is born but the men demand that she race immediately. She wins, gives birth to twins at the end of the race, and then curses the men so that they feel the pangs of birth in their greatest time of need.
Similarities in art often occur between the Irish and the Pictish. However, any literature produced by the Picts, besides a list of kings, has been lost to us and we only have one visual example of a chariot in Pictish art. The Meigle #10 stone, sadly now lost, is our only glimpse of a "Pictish" chariot. At one point the stone rested on a mound in the Meigle Churchyard; today we only have a sketch (found in Allen & Anderson’s, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland) of the original stone.
Two, side-by-side, horses with braided tails draw the Meigle chariot. There is a seated driver at the front and two passengers, sitting one in front of the other, behind the driver. The chariot has an awning stretched over the two passengers and the wheel, underneath the passengers, has twelve spokes.
It is in question whether the chariot on the stone represents a Pictish chariot, a Roman chariot or the artist’s perception of a Biblical times chariot.
South Pointing Chariots are an amazing mechanical invention from ancient China. From a distance, it would look like a figure standing in a horse-drawn chariot. No matter which way the cart turns or how often, the figure's arm always points South -- the direction of preference in that culture at that time. Seen here is a modern functional model.
So, what...it's a magnetic compass hidden inside of a figure, right? Nope. Ok...so it's a gyroscope of some kind then? That's not it either. These South Pointing Chariots use complex gear arrangements to adjust the figure's orientation depending on the motion of the wheels.
How Discovered: Two large scale-models of bronze chariots and horses came unearthed in December, 1980, about 20 meters east of the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. They were tagged Chariot No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. Both required extensive restorations, over two and half years, before displayable in public. No. 2 was unveiled first -- in 1983, then No.1 -- in 1988.
These were encased in a wooden box measuring 6.8 x 2.1x 2 meters for over two thousand years. And the box was buried 8 meters down in a trench. The trench runs 7 meters east to west, with a width of 2.3 meters.
These are half size scale-models of real chariots and horses, faithfully copied down to the last detail, complete with horses and people. They are constructed with bronze and cast bullion. There are 1,720 gold and silver pieces, weighing 7 kilograms. No. 1 chariot is in the lead, with a four-horse team. The chariot has been painted white by conservation workers. The two are a must-see by visitors.
Originally buried 20 meters west of the Emperor's mausoleum, two chariots faced west in large 7-meter-long (23 feet in length) and 2.3 meters wide (7.54 feet in width) wooden coffins. They were thought to be half the actual size and were supposed to serve as the vehicle for the emperor's inspection tours in his afterlife. The colorful square carriages are decorated with geometric and cloud patterns. Coachmen armed with swords guard the chariots on both sides.
Found in 1979, this model of a chariot was deliberately broken or "killed" before being placed in a Cypro-Classical I (fifth century B.C.) tomb in the Phoenician cemetery of Kition. The model shows two male figures in a chariot, their different sizes indicating different status: the larger figure is distinguished by a tall headdress, the smaller figure is the nobleman's charioteer. Only three of the four horses remain. A mixed Greek and Phoenician population at Kition, a Phoenician colony from the ninth century onward, is attested by funerary inscriptions.
Excavations of ancient Kition were begun by the Swedes in the 1920s, but most of the ancient city remains buried under modern Larnaca. The British were surpremely unhelpful to posterity, carting off loads of "rubble" to fill in marshes.
The main site of interest is Area II of the site, where a wooden catwalk provides a view of ongoing excavations. The ruins are of the Phoenician resettlement atop Late Bronze Age foundations. A variety of interesting ancient sacred sites have been uncovered here.
The main visible structures are those of a large shrine that was rededicated to the fertility goddess Astarte by the Phoenicians and four small earlier temples. The large shrine, known as "Temple 1," is 35m x 22m, constructed of ashlar with a rubble infill, and was approached by a monumental entrance.
The four smaller temples are connected to copper smelting workshops suggesting either worship of a copper-related deity or at least a religious interest in copper production. Another shrine, thought to be dedicated to a male seafaring god, contained a pipe for the ritual smoking of opium.
Few Hellenistic or Roman artifacts have been found at Kition, making the site unusual and especially important. It also makes it politically delicate, as Greek Cypriots tend to be less enthusiastic about ruins of Asiatic cultural origins.
During the New Kingdom (1540 to 1069 B.C.), there were many tomb scenes that started showing cats as part of everyday life. The ancient Egyptians took their cats on hunting excursions, especially in the marshes where cats may have been trained to retrieve fowl and fish. Another very common scene in tomb paintings was a cat seated under a woman's chair, showing that the cat had become an integral part of the ancient Egyptian family life.