The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and were also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original chariot was a fast, light, open, two-wheeled conveyance drawn by two or more horses that were 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 during the bronze and the iron ages. Armor was limited to a shield. The vehicle was used for travel and in processions, games, and races after it had been superseded by other vehicles for military purposes.
The word "chariot" comes from Latin carrus, which was a loan from Gaulish. A chariot of war or of triumph was called a car. In ancient Rome and other ancient Mediterranean countries a biga required two horses, a triga three, and a quadriga required 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 spoked wheel.
The earliest spoke-wheeled chariots date to ca. 2000 BC and their use peaked around 1300 BC (see Battle of Kadesh). Chariots ceased to have military importance in the 4th century BC, but chariot races continued to be popular in Constantinople until the 6th century AD.
Other articles related to "chariot, chariots":
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Famous quotes containing the word chariot:
“Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In Englands green & pleasant Land.”
—William Blake (17571827)
“Yet ere I can say wherethe chariot hath
Passed over themnor other trace I find
But as of foam after the oceans wrath”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley (17921822)
“Then the LORD said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers. So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea.”
—Bible: Hebrew, Exodus 14:26,27.