Horses and chariots again.

H.M.Hubey hubeyh at MONTCLAIR.EDU
Wed Nov 11 17:10:31 UTC 1998

Vidhyanath K. Rao wrote:
> Some philologists and archeologists seem to assume that it is a proven
> fact that proto-Indo-Iranians invented the classic chariot and spread
> out conquering everything before them, like the Mongols under Genghis
> Khan (BTW, Mongols lost a few battles too, notably to Egyptians.)

I always have problems understanding how nomads in a treeless steppe can

1. find trees with which to create chariots
2. create smelting ovens, make bronze/iron, make tools with which to
create wooden planks, spokes, axles etc

> The best that can be said, IMHO, seems to be Piggot's view: The steppe
> cultures were part of the milieu that perfected the chariot. But it is
> unlikely that they invented the functional chariot as found in 15th c.
> BCE Near East and sprang it on an unsuspecting world. Given the complex
> net of features of the chariot, it is likely that it emerged over a few
> centuries, with experience gained in real battles. Evidence for such is
> lacking in the steppes.

Nomads in history have usually had a symbiotic relationship with
settled peoples. They provide cheese, milk, meat and buy the rest
from settled peoples. What makes it so difficult to believe that the
settled peoples built wagons especially constructed for steppe

> In particular, any attempts to identify PIIrs with specific steppe
> culture based on supposed invention of chariots remains beset by lack
> of convincing data. And trying to see war chariots in the impressions
> in Sintasha graves ignores the very real objections raised by Littuaer
> and Crowell. Ignoring subtleties of fields one does not specialize in
> is not limited to scientists. Real vehicles have to conform to laws of
> physics and must be constructable with available technology. Just
> because some archeologists and philologists are not aware of the issues
> will not make them go away.

This is standard reasoning it goes like this:

1. You find Greek vases etc in Spain, Italy etc. Conclusion: Greeks
colonized this place.

2. YOu find Phoenician materials in Greece. Conclusion: Greeks traded
with Phoenicians.

I don't see any reason to believe that "Scythian" treasures were built
by Scythians, any more than nomad carts were build by nomads. One has to
believe that the technology has to be available to the nomads before one
can believe that is true.

Best Regards,
hubeyh at =-=-=-=
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