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A chariot drawn by horses
Approximate historical map of the spread of the spoke-wheeled chariot, 2000–500 BC

A chariot is a type of carriage driven by a charioteer using primarily horsesUnknown extension tag "ref" to provide rapid motive power. Chariots were used in militaries as transport or mobile archery platforms, for hunting or for racing, and as a conveniently fast way to travel for many ancient peoples.

The word "chariot" comes from the Latin carrus, itself a loanword from Gaulish. A chariot of war or one used in military parades was called a car. In ancient Rome and some other ancient Mediterranean civilizations a biga required two horses, a triga three, and a quadriga four.

Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two-wheeled conveyance drawn by two or more horses that were hitched side by side, and was little more than a floor with a waist-high guard at the front and sides. It was initially used for ancient warfare during the Bronze and Iron Ages, but after its military capabilities had been superseded by cavalry the chariot was used for travel, in processions, for games, and in races.

The critical invention that allowed the construction of light, horse-drawn chariots was the spoked wheel. The earliest spoke-wheeled chariots date to ca. 2000 BC. The use of chariots peaked around 1300 BC (see Battle of Kadesh). Chariots had lost their military importance by the 1st century AD, but chariot races continued to be popular in Constantinople until the 6th century.


Chariot sections
Intro  Early wheeled vehicles in the Near East  Early Indo-Iranians  Ancient Near East  India  China  Europe  Gauge  See also  Notes  References  Further reading  External links  

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