The chariot derived from the four-wheeled wagon, and was replaced by a two-wheeled vehicle after the original wagon was found to be too cumbersome for combat.
The chariot derived from the four-wheeled wagon, and was replaced by a two-wheeled vehicle after the original wagon was found to be too cumbersome for combat. While the precise origin of the chariot remains unknown, it is known that the
The rapid development of the chariot, the breeding of
Initially, the chariot provided
In the Near
Treaties formed with opposing enemies combining a large kingdom and vassal-states within one area of influence illustrate the important role chariots played in the history of the Near East. Even the show of force by aggressive chariot tactics helped to dissuade confederations in opposition.
Egyptian tomb paintings (c. 1700
Early chariot tactics were immediate and intrusive; the charioteers would rapidly advance and encircle the enemy at a distance of approximately 100 yards and then use the chariot as a mobile platform from which the archer would shoot. This method permitted both speed and a greater ability to maneuver on the battlefield than had war wagons or troops on foot. The result left an enemy defenseless to form a counterattack.
In a two-wheeled, four-spoked Greek chariot, there was a chariot-warrior group of two: the driver and the archer. The two-wheeled Greek chariot did not provide an archer with protective cover, and no spear-throwing could be accommodated in the two-wheeled chassis, or in the battle strategy, without bringing the chariot to a stop. The open-framed chassis had bentwood rods with leather sheets stretched between them. These light chariots allowed for side screens but required the attachment of metal plates for protective purposes. The characteristically curved draught-pole, connecting the yoke to the chassis, was supported at the yoke end by a leather swathe and then continued back to the protective chassis screen.
The component parts of the chariot–wheels, draught-pole and yoke, chassis, and fittings for harnessing–developed independently in different regions.
To lessen the stress of the chariot’s dispersed weight, spokes were of precisely equal lengths. The spoke was trimmed to fit, like a dowel, into the hub holes and wheel rims. Egyptian spokes were carved separately to fit the hub hold and were connected by mortise-and-tenon joints borrowed from Old Kingdom furniture-making techniques. Bent wood, in either single pieces or segments, heated to form the circular shape, was used for the wheels. In Bohemia, the Rhineland, and possibly India, the spoke was held together with overlapping metal strips wrapped to envelop the join. In Shang Dynasty China (1384-1122
Unlike Egyptian chariots, the
Iron Age wheelmakers often lined wheel hubs with bronze and then fitted them with an iron collar. Roman designs introduced a gear-like set of rods made of wood to form channels inside the hub or to turn between the hub and axles.
The harness remained unimproved beyond the yoke until the twelfth century introduction of the traction harness. In Han
A two-wheeled, four-spoked Bronze Age chariot constructed with bent wood, showing the Y-shaped forms that fitted the pair of horses to the yoke.
During the second millennium
Once coordinated teams of chariots and cavalry organized, the role of the chariot diminished, especially in difficult terrain. Charioteers formed elite corps in Near Eastern and Egyptian armies for nearly a thousand years. In Greece, however, where the terrain varied, cavalry replaced the chariot. The Hellenic army consisted of a line of infantry, known as
The characteristics of the Greek fighting style were established in the decisive Battle of
Philip’s Macedonian army formed a core around the “Companion cavalry.” This group numbered about two thousand, and Philip added about six thousand other armed cavalry from previously conquered Near Eastern groups. This cavalry was joined by an infantry of about twenty-five thousand men divided into three main groups: the
Bilson, Frank. Crossbows. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1975. Bryce, Trevor. Hittite Warrior. Illustrated by Adam Hook. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 2007. Cotterell, Arthur. Chariot: From Chariot to Tank, the Astounding Rise and Fall of the World’s First War Machine. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press, 2005. Crouwel, J. H. Chariots and Other Means of Land Transport in Bronze Age Greece. Drawings by J. Morel. Amsterdam: Allard Pierson Museum, 1992. Fields, Nic. Bronze Age War Chariots. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 2006. Gabriel, Richard A. “Chariotry.” In The Ancient World. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Harding, Stephen. “The Deadly Dozen.” Military History 26, no. 2 (June/July 2009): 58. Littauer, M. A., and J. H. Crouwel. Chariots and Related Equipment from the Tomb of Tut’ankhamen. Oxford, England: Griffith Institute, 1985. _______. Selected Writings on Chariots and Other Early Vehicles, Riding and Harness. Edited by Peter Raulwing. Boston: Brill, 2002. Shaw, Ian. Egyptian Warfare and Weapons. Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England: Shire, 1991. Yadin, Yigeah. The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands. 2 vols. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963. Ben Hur. Feature film. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1959. Modern Marvels: Barbarian Battle Tech. Documentary. History Channel, 2008.
Clubs, Maces, and Slings
Picks, Axes, and War Hammers
Bows and Arrows
Knives, Swords, and Daggers
Spears and Pole Arms
Firearms and Cannon
Handarms to Firearms