chariots (was horse argument), 1/2

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Fri Jun 5 20:18:18 UTC 1998

I have changed the order of the quotes as what I have put first, it
seems to me, is the major point. I think that it is futile to continue
this thread unless this is addressed. The rest is incidental to this
and I have made that into a separate post, to come later.

Michael Witzel <witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU> wrote:

> But I confidently predict more early chariots in Russia.
To me the ``more'' implies that `early chariots' have been found in
Russia. But the vehicle whose trace was found in Shintasha could not
have been very maneuverable. I have not seen any counter argument to

To say that simply putting horses under the yoke instead of oxen somehow
makes for fast maneuverable vehicle is as absurd as saying that putting
a souped up engine and mag wheels on a Ford Pinto would make it into
high grade sports car. The transmission, the suspension and the steering
assembly must match the engine. So also, to make a fast maneuverable
chariot, the harnessing and axle/wheel/body attachments must be made to
match the animals.

The basic facts and descriptions of experiments with reconstructions
can be found in the references I gave. If you disagree with them, the
thing to do is to conduct experiments with reconstructions based on
plans supposedly used in Central Asia or India and show that they are
fit for the purpose. Or, if such experiments have been done, give
references to where they have been published. Without that, any further
discussion would be pointless and charges of ``ivory tower'' attitude
counter-productive. [And I thought that practical tests were the
anti-thesis of ``ivory tower'' attitude.]

Furthermore, given the size of early domesticated horses and horse
anatomy, horses strapped to a neck yoke would not be much better than
hemiones strapped to a neck yoke. And the latter were in use in the
Ancient Near East in mid 3rd millennium BCE. It is the development of a
decent harness for horses that made chariots usable in war, if not also
for races. It is the history of harness that matters.


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