chariot


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chariot,

earliest and simplest type of carriage and the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. The chariot was known among the Babylonians before the introduction of horses c.2000 B.C. and was first drawn by asses. The chariot and horse introduced into Egypt c.1700 B.C. by the Hyksos invaders undoubtedly contributed to their military success. Simultaneously the use of the chariot spread over the Middle East, chiefly as a war machine. The Assyrians are credited with introducing chariots with scythes mounted on the wheels as weapons, a type later adopted by the Persians. In Greece and Rome the chariot was never used to any extent in war, possibly because of generally unfavorable topography. It was, however, prominent in games and processions, becoming in Rome the inevitable carriage of the triumphal procession. Here also the chariot races of the circus were developed. The ancient chariot was a very light vehicle, drawn by two or more horses hitched side by side. The car was little else than a floor with a waist-high semicircular guard in front. British chariots were open in front, had a curved wall behind, often had seats, and sometimes had scythes on the wheels.

Chariot

 

a wheeled vehicle used in combat and for triumphal, ritual, and burial processions, as well as for sports contests. Ritual and war chariots have been found in the excavations of the graves of the rich dating from the end of the third millennium B.C. as well as from later times (the finds in Kish, Ur, the Transcaucasus, and elsewhere). Representations of chariots in clay and bronze, bas-reliefs, and paintings have been found over broad areas of Eurasia and North Africa.

War chariots were widely used in the armies of the ancient Orient (Egypt, Assyria, Persia, China, and India). War chariots made up special military detachments which operated in front of or at the flanks of the infantry. An attack by the chariots would disorganize enemy ranks, and the infantry that followed the chariots would complete the rout. There were several types of war chariots, including two-wheeled chariots that were pulled by one or two horses (one warrior drove the horses, and the others fought with spears, swords, or bows); in the case of the four-wheeled chariot pulled by four horses, spears were fastened to its poles, blades were fastened to its axles, and the horses were covered with armor.

In classical Greece the horse-drawn chariot was used chiefly for sports contests. In Rome the triumphal chariots were of the greatest importance; these chariots were used for celebrating victorious imperial campaigns. Up to eight pairs of horses were used to draw them. In medieval Western Europe war chariots were used with high, strong sides in which holes were cut; gunners and even small cannons were carried in such chariots.

chariot

a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc., in war, races, and processions
References in classic literature ?
The chariot passed through the outer gates into a fine arched chamber built in the thick wall, and through the inner gates into the streets of the Emerald City.
The gates flew open as the chariot appeared before them, and the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger trotted up a jeweled driveway to the front door of the palace and stopped short.
Mighty Idomeneus speared him on the right shoulder as he was mounting his chariot, and the darkness of death enshrouded him as he fell heavily from the car.
I saw that the ceremony, if it could be dignified by such a name, was over, and seeking out Sola I found her in our chariot with a hideous little creature held tightly in her arms.
Following close behind the chariot Dorothy saw her old friend the Scarecrow, riding calmly astride a wooden Saw-Horse, which pranced and trotted as naturally as any meat horse could have done.
He held a spear in his hands and was urging on the footmen: he was red with blood as if he were slaying living men, and he stood in his chariot.
The next morning a strong man knocked at the cottage door, and doffing his hat to the Princess said: "A golden chariot passed me yesterday, and one within it flung me a purse of ducats, saying:
Then he put the iron inlaid breast-plate on his horses, so that they were covered from forehead to fore-foot with spears, and points, and lances, and hard points, so that every motion in this chariot was war-near, so that every corner, and every point, and every end, and every front of this chariot was a way of tearing.
These low, commodious wagons moved two abreast, and on either side of them marched solid ranks of mounted warriors, for in the chariots were the women and children of the royal court.
And now thir mightiest quelld, the battel swerv'd, With many an inrode gor'd; deformed rout Enter'd, and foul disorder; all the ground With shiverd armour strow'n, and on a heap Chariot and Charioter lay overturnd And fierie foaming Steeds; what stood, recoyld Orewearied, through the faint Satanic Host Defensive scarse, or with pale fear surpris'd, Then first with fear surpris'd and sense of paine Fled ignominious, to such evil brought By sinne of disobedience, till that hour Not liable to fear or flight or paine.
Who, but Mother Ceres, making the corn grow, and too busy to notice the golden chariot as it went rattling along.
Before the chariot flashed the bright escort of maidens armed with bow and arrow.