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Chariots for War and Transportation ---Expensive Vehicles That Were Built With Wood And Lashings

Updated on May 22, 2011

chariot of Egypt




In the Bible, I have read about chariots in times of battle and, particularly, about God sending chariots of fire when he is rescuing his people. Chariots were also a means of transportation for many people (probably dignitaries or the wealthy).The earliest and most simple chariot was a made as a horse carriage.

The prototype to the chariot was created in Mesopotamia around 3000 BC. (Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris-Euphrates River system, which is now modern-day Iraq, Northeastern Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and Southwestern Iran).

The earliest form of war chariots was depicted as having four wheels drawn by four asses with a driver and a warrior armed with spears and axes. The chariots were used as weapons to drive into the crowds of enemy warriors and run over them.

Later in Mesopotamia, they built a two wheel vehicle that carried one occupant sitting astride a beam in the center -- like riding an animal. There were many design changes made to make the chariot faster and more efficient.

 A chariot of war was called a car. In ancient Rome and ancient Mediterranean countries a biga was a two horse chariot, a triga used three horses, and a quadriga was pulled by four horses abreast.

The chariots were built of wood by heating the wood, bending to the required shape, and letting it dry. Different kinds of wood was used (some had to be imported) like ash for the axles, elm, and sycamore for the foot board.

To make the spokes of the wheels, they had to bend the wood into a v-shape. They were glued together so that every spoke was made up of two halves of two v-shaped pieces so that it formed a hexagonal star. The tips of the v’s were fastened to the hubs with wet animal intestines and they hardened when they dried.

The tires were made of sections of wood tied to the wheel with leather or raw-hide lashings which passed through slots in the tire section. The lashings did not come into contact with the ground which made the chariot more reliable by reducing wear and tear.

Because the chariots did not have springs, they needed to stay in the flat lands and avoid rocky terrain, thus, avoiding wrecking their vehicle. Despite their caution, a wreck happened every once in a while and the driver and archer tried to jump off before getting injured themselves. They also tried to catch the horses and ride them to safety.

Chariots were expensive (the charioteer had to pay a small fortune for the chariot), clumsy, and broke down often. Each charioteer was allotted a team of horses from the royal stable and five attendants he had to equip at his own expense. Being a charioteer was a prestigious job.






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    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      interesting and useful information pertaining to this ancient mode of transportation and warcraft that we read so frequently about in the Bible.