Ancient Egyptian chariots:
Fighting from chariot and horseback
For best results save the whole page (pictures included) onto your hard disk, open the page with Word 97+, edit if necessary and print.
The chariotHyksos who took over Lower Egypt, though there is no factual evidence to support this view. It spread into Asia Minor, Greece and was known in Northern Europe by 1500 BCE. With the advent of cavalry riding on horseback it lost most of its military importance by 1000 BCE.
The Egyptian chariot betrayed its Asiatic origin in a number of ways, by the names of its parts which were Semitic and by its decorations which often took the form of date palm branches or animals opposing each other, both Syrian motifs. chariot by making it lighter, changing the position of the chariot's axle so that the driver would stand closer to it and covering parts of the axle with metal in order to reduce the friction between it and the wooden wheelhub. Some wooden parts were strengthened by covering them with metal sleeves. These changes lightened the load on the horses and greatly improved their performance.
Saddle-pads were placed on the horses' backs and the yoke was attached to them. Leather girths around the horses' chests and bellies prevented them from slipping. A single shaft attached to the yoke pulled the chariots.
The chariot was built of pieces of wood which had been bent into the required shape by heating them (immersing them in boiling hot water for several hours is not recorded but may well have been used), bending them and then letting them dry. Various kinds of wood were used, some of which had to be imported: elm, ash for the axles and sycamore for the footboard.
Chariotbuilders from the tomb of Aba, Thebes
The tires were made of sections of wood, tied to the wheel with leather or raw-hide lashings which passed through slots in the tire sections. The thongs did not come into contact with the ground, making the chariot more reliable by reducing the wear and tear. 
When a chariot was not in use the constant pressure of its own weight tended to deform the wheels. When the vehicle was stationary for any extended period of time, they were therefore removed - as was done in the tomb of Tutankhamen - or the chariot could be turned over.
German carpenters who reconstructed such a chariot needed about six hundred man-hours to complete it .
The Egyptians knew two types of chariots, the war-chariot which had six-spoked wheels while the carriage chariots had only four spokes. The six spoked wheels could be made lighter and were better supported than the heavier four spoked wheels, making the whole chariot more reliable.Serving in the charioteer corps did not come cheap. The recruit was allotted a team of horses from the royal stables and five attendants, whom he had to equip. The chariot itself cost him, according to a possible prejudiced scribe, three deben of silver for the shaft and five for the body, a small fortune, which only noblemen could afford. Captured enemy chariots were an important part of the booty, above all chariots of wealthy princes. Thus, at Megiddo all the chariots of the united Canaanite rulers fell into the hands of Thutmose III:
Then their horses were captured, and their chariots of gold and silver became an easy [prey]. Their ranks were lying stretched out on their backs like fish in the bight of a net, while his majesty's valiant army counted their possessions.Captured was the tent of that wretched [foe], which was worked [with silver]. -------. Then the entire army jubilated and gave praise to Amun [for the victory] he had given to his son on [that day. They lauded] his majesty and extolled his victory. Then they presented the plunder they had taken: hands, living prisoners, horses, chariots of gold and silver and of [painted work (?)]The tribute defeated enemies had to pay sometimes included chariots, which had the advantage (to the Egyptians) of being both expensive and of diminishing their fighting capabilities:
..... 5 chariots wrought with gold (with) [poles (?)] of gold; 5 chariots, wrought with electrum, with poles of ag.t; total 10......
Chariots were impressive machines, bestowing upon the charioteers great prestige. If in the Old Kingdom pharaohs had often been carried in litters, this means of ostentation was abandoned in the New Kingdom in favour of the state chariot.
The Good God, Golden [Horus], Shining in the chariot, like the rising of the sun ; great in strength, strong in might, mighty hearted like him who dwells in Thebes (Mont); smiting Naharin with his mighty sword.
Egyptian war chariots were manned by a driver holding a whip and the reigns and a fighter, generally wielding a bow or, after spending all his arrows, a short spear of which he had a few. When hunting, the pharaohs would sometimes dispense with the driver and enjoy chasing after their prey on their own. 5]. The reasons for this were manyfold. Bronze Age cavalry was mostly deployed as a highly mobile archery force against lightly armed and scantily protected infantry.
...Thy reins have been cut in the darkness. Thy horse is gone and is speeding(??) over the slippery ground. The road stretches before it. It smashes thy cart and makes thy ////////////; thy weapons fall to the ground, and are buried(?) in the sand...If one was lucky one would break down near a town which had knowledgable craftsmen with the tools and the materials necessary for making the repairs:
Thou makest thy way into the armoury; workshops surround thee; smiths and leather-workers are all about thee. They do all that thou wishest. They attend to thy chariot, so that it may cease from lying idle. Thy pole is newly shaped(?), its ////// are adjusted. They give leather covering(?) to thy collar-piece(?) //////. They supply thy yoke. They adjust(?) thy ////// (worked) with the chisel(?) to(?) the ///////// They give a ///////// (of metal) to thy whip; they fasten [to] it lashes.More likely one would, according to Murphy's Law which is as old as mankind, have one's brush with death in the most inhospitable place and would have to make do relying on one's own meagre talents only:
The ravine is on one side of thee, the mountain rises(?) on the other. On thou goest jolting(?), thy chariot on its side. Thou fearest to crush(?) thy horse. If it be thrown towards the abyss(?), thy collar-piece(?) is left bare(?), thy girth(?) falls. Thou unfastenest the horse so as to repair the collar-piece(?) at the top of the defile. Thou art not expert in the way of binding it together; thou knowest not how to tie(?) it.
 The website of "GEO Magazin" describing this reconstruction, "Streitwagen: Die Superwaffe der Pharaonen" (http://www.geo.de/themen/historie/streitwagen/index.html), has unfortunately been discontinued.
 The Kushite conqueror of Egypt, Piye (716-711 BCE), still had chariots at least for his personal use:
His majesty sailed northward to the city of the Hare nome; his majesty came forth from the cabin of the ship, the horses were yoked up, the chariot was mounted, the terror of his majesty reached to the end of the Asiatics, every heart was heavy with the fear of him.So did Ahmose II (569-526 BCE) in his fight against Wahibre:
His majesty mustered his infantry and his cavalry /// /// ///. His majesty mounted upon his chariot; he took arrows and bow in hand, [he arrived (?)] at [/// (?)], he reached Andropolis, the army jubilating and rejoicing on the road.Concerning the word cavalry Breasted remarks: The word is uncertain, xf nfr is impossible. I translate from the determinative. The Greeks must have had horsemen by this time.
 While among the Egyptians Re kept his ancient relationship with the bark, among the Greeks Helios, the sun god, drove a chariot through the sky.
|Index of Topics|
|Main Index and Search Page|
|Links||(Opening in a new window)|
|These are just suggestions for further study. I do not assume any responsibility for the content and availability of these websites.|
| Chariot making|
| Horseback Riding and Chariots|
|Amelia B. Edwards: Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers|
|Tomb of Menna: Wall 5 (Manchester Metropolitan University website)|
|Feedback: Please report broken links, mistakes - factual or otherwise, etc. to me. Thanks.|