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  • ANCIENT WEAPONS - The Chariot

    What ever happened to chariots?

    Whenever one reads the Bible or ancient tales, you see chariots. When Julius Caesar (JVLIVS CAESAR ) attacked Britain, he was counter-attacked by chariots, which were not used by the Romans.

    Where did they go? At one point they're the latest thing, and then they seem to vanish without a trace.

    Does a man on a horse truly replace a chariot team with a driver and spearman/archer?

    Gentlemen: your opinions please!
    Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
    Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


    "Never pet a burning dog."

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  • #2
    I will start with links:

    http://itsa.ucsf.edu/~snlrc/encyclop...a/chariot.html

    http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/timeli...cs/chariot.htm

    http://www.alanlittle.org/weblog/chariots.html

    From what little I know of this, I would say that the chariots became obsolete because of cost, terrain, no suspension therefore subject to flipping and/or damage, speed. Cavalry units were more mobile. Infantry units against chariots? Phalanxes? Tactics?
    http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

    Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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    • #3
      IIRC it was the introduction of the Roman Char V that ended the era of the Chariot.

      With go faster stripes, sunroof, and alloy wheels, this new model effectively killed the market. Everybody wanted one, but no-one could actually afford it and because it was so superior to the standard models on the market, no-one wanted a cheaper model so they all went and jumped on their horses instead.



      Dr. S.
      Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

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      • #4
        Dr. S,
        how about a DVD entertainment system too?


        Seriously,
        I agree with the thought that the terrain was a bit too rough on Chariots. They would seem to be only effective on open fields, whereas horseback cavalry could move through forests and such. I think being on horseback was a much more effective way of using the horse than having it pull you. If the horse jumped an obstacle, you'd probably be thrown off the chariot, whereas on horseback, you'd be ok.
        Pvt. Bob Mana,
        Co. B, 3rd Maryland Vol. Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Corps, Union Army of the Potomac

        For the Union

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        • #5
          Originally posted by PvtManaCoB3MD
          I agree with the thought that the terrain was a bit too rough on Chariots. They would seem to be only effective on open fields, whereas horseback cavalry could move through forests and such. I think being on horseback was a much more effective way of using the horse than having it pull you. If the horse jumped an obstacle, you'd probably be thrown off the chariot, whereas on horseback, you'd be ok.
          Could be, but it doesn't match the records. Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico mentions the ancient Britons running up and down the pole between the horses and doing acrobatics (such as standing with a foot on each horses' back) while going full tilt.
          Without stirrups (not for many centuries) a horse is not a stable fighting platform -- a quick turn could make you an "instant infantryman". I see your point on the forests -- one horse is narrower than two horses pulling a cart -- and on the horse jumps.
          I wonder if a better point might be that by getting rid of the chariot, you get rid of the driver, who can be a second fighter then.
          Ideas?
          (<-- BOO! No chariot smilie!)
          Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
          Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


          "Never pet a burning dog."

          RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
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          http://www.sca.org
          http://www.scv.org/
          http://www.scouting.org/

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          • #6
            Re: ANCIENT WEAPONS - The Chariot

            Originally posted by Janos
            What ever happened to chariots?

            Whenever one reads the Bible or ancient tales, you see chariots. When Julius Caesar (JVLIVS CAESAR ) attacked Britain, he was counter-attacked by chariots, which were not used by the Romans.

            Where did they go? At one point they're the latest thing, and then they seem to vanish without a trace.

            Does a man on a horse truly replace a chariot team with a driver and spearman/archer?

            Gentlemen: your opinions please!
            I think a big reason chariots faded from history was that horses got bigger thru selective breeding. When chariots were dominant more than one horse was needed to pull the chariot. As equine selection by man caused a stronger and larger animal to evolve the concept of one man on one horse became the rule.
            Lance W.

            Peace through superior firepower.

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            • #7
              Re: Re: ANCIENT WEAPONS - The Chariot

              Originally posted by Lance Williams
              I think a big reason chariots faded from history was that horses got bigger thru selective breeding. When chariots were dominant more than one horse was needed to pull the chariot. As equine selection by man caused a stronger and larger animal to evolve the concept of one man on one horse became the rule.
              Interesting. So the improvement had less to do with the chariot (or the crew) than the horse. Not a theory I've heard before, but it matches the records and makes sense. Thanks.
              JS
              Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
              Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


              "Never pet a burning dog."

              RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
              http://www.mormon.org
              http://www.sca.org
              http://www.scv.org/
              http://www.scouting.org/

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: ANCIENT WEAPONS - The Chariot

                Originally posted by Janos
                What ever happened to chariots?

                Whenever one reads the Bible or ancient tales, you see chariots. When Julius Caesar (JVLIVS CAESAR ) attacked Britain, he was counter-attacked by chariots, which were not used by the Romans.

                Where did they go? At one point they're the latest thing, and then they seem to vanish without a trace.

                Does a man on a horse truly replace a chariot team with a driver and spearman/archer?

                Gentlemen: your opinions please!
                The chariot was something that passed its time and was forgotten. From my reading, the chariot was not the most stabled platfrom. Having only two wheels, its footprint was rather small, hitting a rock, tree branch, pothole or other obstacle could result in a catastrophic loss of control, and crash. Never mind the position of so unfortunate a soldier as this, these was also the hazard of being forcefully thrown from the chariot, having the chariot roll over you several times, even being run over by the horse. Like cavalry, the phalanx, sail-powered warships, etc., the chariot became an anachronism.
                Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
                (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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                • #9
                  Sulla and Chariots

                  Sulla, fighting in Pontus at the Battle of Chaeronea 86 BC[/I], encountered a superior army equipped with scythed chariots. To deal with the threat, he made use of offensive fortifications to protect his flanks as he advanced by setting up a series of trenches and palisades. Toward the front of his army, he stationed archers and skirmishers to harass the chariots, which drove the horses mad and the chariots charged back through the Pontic Phalanx. Sulla exploited the resulting chaos launching an immediate counter attack of infantry and cavalry which successfully drove the Pontic forces from the field.

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                  • #10
                    You had the original "chariot" which was a cart powered by Asses (donkeys for you teenagers out there). The harness was not very good (it choked the animal) and the power system was too smart to go very fast. Still it was a useful mobile platform to launch missiles from. The Chariot evolved into heavy and light versions over time. Neither was very good for shock attack but excellent for missile fire. Invasions of Northern Barbarian groups brought bigger and better horses to the Middle East.

                    The Greeks used it as more of a transport for officers. See the Illiad. Horses were VERY expensive for a Greek. That is why the rich and nobles were in the Cavalry.

                    The Celts were a horse society and preferred to herd cattle. Over time they settled into more or less farmers, but the Chariot was still a prestige vehicle. Also the horse in Northern Europe was small (read pony). They used it to flee approaching Romans or concentrate against them.

                    The Horse Barbarians went into Cavalry because it was easier to have a number of re-mounts on a string. Chariot teams have to be changed (see stagecoaches).

                    By the Roman period, Chariots were gimmicks. Watch the movie "Gladiator" and see how to fight them. Archers and Slingers should disrupt any approaching Chariot force and the Pilums at close range were effective in stopping them. The early Roman veterans (Third Line) even carried lances, which could function as pikes in a Chariot/Cavalry emergency.

                    Pruitt
                    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

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                    • #11
                      Weapons Masters on the Discovery/Military channel has just started airing commercials to advertise their new episode to air this Tuesday dealing exclusively with The CHARIOT!.


                      It will premier on Feb10 2009
                      Last edited by Cicero; 07 Feb 09, 06:24.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                        The Greeks used it as more of a transport for officers. See the Illiad. Horses were VERY expensive for a Greek. That is why the rich and nobles were in the Cavalry.
                        The Celts were a horse society and preferred to herd cattle. Over time they settled into more or less farmers, but the Chariot was still a prestige vehicle. Also the horse in Northern Europe was small (read pony). They used it to flee approaching Romans or concentrate against them.
                        The Horse Barbarians went into Cavalry because it was easier to have a number of re-mounts on a string. Chariot teams have to be changed (see stagecoaches).
                        Pruitt
                        There are also political and social considerations: chariots were the kings way to make war (Iliad), when democracy started in Greece, and new types of horses were ready, great numbers of (yet aristocratic) cavalrymen were available.
                        A ME LE GUARDIE
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Janos View Post
                          Could be, but it doesn't match the records. Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico mentions the ancient Britons running up and down the pole between the horses and doing acrobatics (such as standing with a foot on each horses' back) while going full tilt.
                          Without stirrups (not for many centuries) a horse is not a stable fighting platform -- a quick turn could make you an "instant infantryman". I see your point on the forests -- one horse is narrower than two horses pulling a cart -- and on the horse jumps.
                          I wonder if a better point might be that by getting rid of the chariot, you get rid of the driver, who can be a second fighter then.
                          Ideas?
                          (<-- BOO! No chariot smilie!)
                          I agree with Janos. I might also add that the Britons were probably driving their chariots not only rather quickly, but driving them down the steep slopes and/or cliffs that kept Caesar from disembarking at the first chance.
                          Flavius Volusenus (Cicero) Rostra
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                          • #14
                            We've been hinting at the matter in earlier posts, but I want to be a bit more explicit. Chariots can be utilized in two or maybe three ways. One way, which I think that New Kingdom Egypt favored, was to use chariots as a mobile weapons platform. The chariot would have a driver and an archer (or spearman) who would launch his weapons from the moving chariot.

                            The opposite use is to utilize the chariot as a delivery system to "ferry" the warrior about the battefield who would dismount to fight - kind of like dragoons in the mid 19th Century US Army. We see this use in the Iliad as others have so sagely noted earlier. I believe that the Celts who opposed Caesar and later Claudius used chariots in this manner.

                            A third use would be to employ chariots as a shock weapon - think of the Persian scythed chariots at Arbela or the Pontic chariots mentioned earlier in this thread. It seems to me that the horses are particularly exposed in this method, and one dead or spooked horse in a team makes the chariot very difficult to handle.

                            Chariots are expensive, are unstable, and require a great deal of maintenance. My legs hurt just thinking about riding a chariot over even flat terrain in a chariot without suspension (or with rudimentary suspension).
                            Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

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                            • #15
                              Chariots had their last real day in the sun at Kadesh. The received wisdom is that they were used as a "mobile weapons platform" (as guthrieba describes it above). Those that we have the most information on (Egyptian) exhibit all of the drawbacks listed by several posters above: instability, prone to damage, need of flat terrain and awfully expensive.

                              By "classical" times the chariot was essentially a status symbol (like battlewagons of the early 20c though nowhere near as useful) and, if they were employed on the battlefield, used as "shock weapons" by the addition of scythes for example. In this they proved singularly ineffectual:

                              Xen. Anab. 1.8.20

                              As for the enemy's chariots, some of them plunged through the lines of their own troops, others, however, through the Greek lines, but without charioteers. And whenever the Greeks saw them coming, they would open a gap for their passage; one fellow, to be sure, was caught, like a befuddled man on a race-course, yet it was said that even he was not hurt in the least, nor, for that matter, did any other single man among the Greeks get any hurt whatever in this battle, save that some one on the left wing was reported to have been hit by an arrow.

                              Arr. Anab. 3.14

                              Meantime the foreigners launched their scythe-bearing chariots against Alexander himself, for the purpose of throwing his phalanx into confusion; but in this they were grievously deceived. For as soon as they approached, the Agrianians and the javelin-men with Balacrus, who had been posted in front of the Companion cavalry, hurled their javelins at some of the horses; others they seized by the reins and pulled the drivers off, and standing round the horses killed them. Yet some got right through the ranks; for the men stood apart and opened their ranks, as they had been instructed, in the places where the chariots assaulted them. In this way it generally happened that the chariots passed through safely, and the men by whom they were driven were uninjured. But these also were afterwards overpowered by the grooms of Alexander’s army and by the royal hypaspists.
                              Curtius babbles bloodily about the effect of these chariots (arms and heads removed) but this is to please his gladiator-loving Roman audience for even he notes their innefectiveness (as does Diodorus based on the same tradition) later.

                              Decently trained infantry could deal with these contraptions and good heavy cavalry was a much better option. Just on the size of horse, the Persian horses were, from all accounts, a somewhat bigger critter than the Greek. Hence the Macedonian liking for Nisean horses of the Persian aristocracy
                              Paralus

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