Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A chariot is a two-wheeled, horse-drawn means of transportation. In Latin they say biga is a two-horse chariot, and quadriga is a four-horse chariot. It was used for very old warfare throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages, and constant to be used for travel, processions and in games after it had been superseded militarily. Early forms may also have had four wheels, even though these are not usually referred to as chariots. The serious creation that allowed the construction of light, horse-drawn chariots for use in battle was the spoked wheel. In these times, most horses could not support the weight of a man in battle; the unique wild horse was a large pony in size. Chariots were efficient in war only on fairly flat, open terrain. As horses were slowly bred to be larger and stronger, chariots gave way to cavalry. The earliest spoke-wheeled chariots date to ca. 2000 BC and their usage peaked approximately 1300 BC (see Battle of Kadesh). Chariot races sustained to be popular in Constantinople until the 6th century. In modern warfare, the planned role of the chariot is played by the tank or the armored personnel carrier. In World War I, just before the opening of the first tanks, motorcycles with machine-guns mounted on a sidecar and armoured cars constitute mechanized versions of the chariot. It might be said that the Russian tachanka for a short time re-introduced horse-drawn chariots, armed with machine-guns but these were much more a light version of the horse artillery which had been a feature of European battlefields for well over a hundred years.

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