This article was originally published on the defunct Ancient World Magazine website and is now re-published here.
Another year, another episode of the Ancient World Magazine podcast! In this episode, Josho Brouwers is joined by contributing editor Joshua Hall, regular contributor Arianna Sacco, and special guest Silvannen Gerrard to talk about chariots. A chariot is a fast and light vehicle with two spoked wheels, drawn by a team of at least two horses. In this sense, it should not be confused with the heavier two-wheeled carts or with waggons, which have four wheels.
We start with a brief survey of the origins of the chariot, including the Sumerian battle-carts of the third millennium BC. We then turn our attention to the introduction of the chariot proper, its use in the armies of the Bronze Age kingdoms, and how they eventually made way, in the Early Iron Age, to what we refer to as “true” cavalry.
Still, even after the introduction of cavalry, chariots did not immediately fall out of the use. They continued to be used in the armies of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and we also encounter them in a military context on ancient Greek vases. As usual, there are problems of interpretation, but chariots did continue in use on the battlefield for some time. The best late examples are probably the scythed chariots of the Hellenistic era.
This episode is also available on YouTube.