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Re: earliest chariots

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  • Francesco Brighenti
    ... In this connection, I ve often been wondering which category of wheeled vehicles does the following model (labeled as Mitanni chariot on certain Internet
    Message 1 of 24 , Jan 1, 2009
      Dean Anderson wrote:

      > Here's an interesting example of what looks to be an early chariot
      > in the transition from cart to chariot -- it has solid wheels
      > instead of spokes and is pulled by onagers. While it might be
      > unwieldy by the standards of later light chariots, I'm sure it was
      > quite intimidating during its time...:
      >
      > <http://www.eastwestcultural.org/public/onagerchariot.jpg>
      > <http://www.eastwestcultural.org/public/childe-onagerchariot.jpg>


      In this connection, I've often been wondering which category of
      wheeled vehicles does the following model (labeled as "Mitanni
      chariot" on certain Internet sites) belong in:

      http://sapiens.ya.com/antiqvae2/fotos/mitanni_carro.jpg

      Where does this piece come from, and what is its date? Does the
      model represent two Mitanni (= Mittani) _maryannu_ mounted on a
      horse-drawn chariot (though a pair of horses isn't apparently part
      of the model)? Are the wheels solid or spoked ones?

      Thanks for a clarification (Trudy?).

      Francesco
    • Dean Anderson
      [Mod. Note: please make your own tinyurls [ ] for long links that will likely get broken in transmission -- this means anything longer than
      Message 2 of 24 , Jan 6, 2009
        [Mod. Note: please make your own tinyurls [<www.tinyurl.com>] for
        long links that will likely get broken in transmission -- this means
        anything longer than about 70 characters -- it is too time consuming
        for the moderators to have to do this ourselves! - BF]

        Dear Trudy and list,

        Thanks for the replies. This thread has caused me to re-examine my
        thinking on the role of chariots and 'rathas'.

        Trudy, I agree with you that one of the main roles of that vehicle
        was quite likely ceremonial. In fact, I think that was one of the
        most important functions of all early wheeled vehicles. On the other
        hand, it's also quite conceivable that at least some of them had a
        role in warfare as well.

        You mention that "These make pretty poor assault vehicles as all you
        need to disrupt one is a pole between one of the onagers forelegs.
        When one stumbles, the rest are pulled awry & the driver flips out
        (no helmet either!)."

        Wouldn't this be true of all chariots, regardless of design,
        including the well-attested light war chariot? And in doing so,
        wouldn't you be in danger of being trampled, as these pictures show?

        http://www.eastwestcultural.org/public/chariot_hitnrun.jpg
        http://tinyurl.com/9dy4wl

        Another issue is that the onagers may have been more controllable
        than is generally thought. Littauer (2002a:498) identifies what she
        seems to think are cavessons (like muzzles or bitless bridles) on
        the equids on both the Standard of Ur and the Standard of Mari.
        These would have given more directional control than nose rings. Of
        course, you're still left with stubborn onagers pulling your cart!

        tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/axlr5h

        Can anyone get access to the pictures of the Standard of Mari at
        Penn? You need a PennKey. I can't find any other pictures of it.

        http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/fisher/n2002110639
        http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/fisher/n2002110636

        Although there is no doubt that the invention of the light two-
        wheeled chariot revolutionized ancient warfare (Piggot 1992), its
        success often overshadows the fact that the earlier four-wheeled
        vehicle was apparently used in combat as well. (Renfrew 1998:282)
        There is pictorial evidence of a four-wheeled "battle car" as seen
        on the "Royal Standard of Ur" (c. 2600-2400 BCE) from the Early
        Dynastic Period of Ur.

        http://tinyurl.com/9exw7z
        http://tinyurl.com/6tyylm

        Littauer and Crouwel (2002b:27) observe: -"The 4-wheeled "battle
        car" would be primarily a mobile firing platform from which
        javelins, carried in a sheath attached to a corner of the high front
        breastwork, could be cast. Recent experiments with a reconstruction
        of such a wagon show that an expert javelin thrower can cast 30
        javelins per min. at a distance of up to 60 m. from it while it
        moves at 16-19.3 km. per hour."

        They presumably were also used by archers as later chariots were. As
        is always the case with new military inventions, they are usually
        most effective during their initial introduction before the enemy
        has a chance to develop countermeasures like those Trudy mentioned.
        During their initial introduction, they must have been fearsome
        indeed to a lightly armored Bronze Age warrior who had never seen
        them before. It required proper terrain, however, and this was
        always one of the major limitations of chariots, which gave rise to
        their eventual eclipse by the more-flexible cavalry. But if
        conditions were right, maneuverability wasn't an issue since they
        may have been used as later chariots were, described by Littauer
        and Crouwel (2002b:32): "as mobile firing platforms to run along the
        face of the enemy to soften it up" or to harry the flanks of an army
        or in the pursuit of a retreating one, rather than in a frontal
        assault or other situations that required more flexibility.

        In a wartime parallel to the ceremonial role of chariots and battle
        cars this frontal strafing attack just prior to the battle would
        have a significant psychological effect. Since it would have been
        carried out by the elite troops and even royalty it would also
        demonstrate their superiority.

        Best,

        Dean

        Littauer, M. A. 2002a. Bits and Pieces. In Selected writings on
        chariots and other early vehicles, riding and harness, ed. Peter
        Raulwing, 487-504. Culture and history of the ancient Near East v.
        6. Leiden: Brill.

        Littauer, M. A, and J. H Crouwel. 2002b. Kampfwagen (Streitwage) B.
        Archaeolgisch. In Selected writings on chariots and other early
        vehicles, riding and harness, ed. Peter Raulwing, 26-37 (609 total).
        Culture and history of the ancient Near East v. 6. Leiden: Brill.

        Piggott, Stuart. 1992. Wagon, Chariot, and Carriage: Symbol and
        Status in the History of Transport. London: Thames and Hudson.

        Renfrew, Colin. 1998. All the King's horses: assessing cognitive
        maps in later prehistoric Europe. In Creativity in Human Evolution
        and Prehistory, ed. Stephen Mithen, 260-284. London and New York:
        Routledge.

        _________________________________
        Trudy Kawami wrote:
        >
        > Dean,
        >
        > In Western Asia we call this type of vehicle a straddle-car.
        >The driver literally straddles the yoke pole balancing on
        >the axel (or directly above it). It is pretty spectacular,
        >if not very stable; but that may be the point. It's a very
        >high-status object. These early status
        > vehicles were not very easily directed, nor were onagers
        >very biddable. The basic movements are forward & stop,
        >with a rough left & right also possible. Agile & versatile, they >
        >were not.
        >
        > These make pretty poor assault vehicles as all you need to
        >disrupt one is a pole between one of the onagers forelegs.
        >When one stumbles, the rest are pulled awry & the driver flips
        >out (no helmet either!). But speed and maneuverability were
        >not the goals. I think we should remove these vehicles from the
        >"warfare" category & put them in "parade" instead. They must have
        >provided quite a show.
        >
        > Trudy Kawami
      • Nick Allen
        Dear list, Dean s letter helps with an important methodological problem. When one finds a striking similarlity between (say) India and Ireland, an
        Message 3 of 24 , Jan 6, 2009
          Dear list,

          Dean's letter helps with an important methodological problem.

          When one finds a striking similarlity between (say) India and Ireland,
          an Indo-European comparativist is tempted to think of common origin as the
          explanation. But in a case like epic stories involving light horse-drawn
          war chariots, the archaeology seems to rule this out: the language family
          must have started splitting up well before the invention of this military
          technology, and the similarity apparently has to be ascribed to horizontal
          transmission, not to common origin.

          However, if the war chariots were preceded by heavier battle cars or
          wagons, we could still be dealing with two narrative traditions having a
          common origin: once the new technology arrived, the stories would have
          undergone independent but parallel updating in the two areas.

          In his Indo-European Poetry and Myth (OUP 2007), p. 23-24, Martin West
          sees the implications of the dating of war chariots (to not before 2100 BC)
          as a 'devastating result' for himself and other seekers of Indo-European
          mythology, i.e. for those focusing on common origin (say a millennium
          earlier). The battle wagon plus independent updating suggests a way round
          his rather depressing verdict. Perhaps such parallel updating is more
          likely to affect technology than most other sorts of narrative matter.

          Happy New Year to all, Nick

          N.J. Allen, ISCA (=Social & Cultural Anthropology)
          Oxford
        • Valerie J Roebuck
          I received this from another List, and thought it might be of interest to some. Valerie J Roebuck
          Message 4 of 24 , Feb 11, 2009
            I received this from another List, and thought it might be of interest to some.

            Valerie J Roebuck

            >*Call for papers: _Commerce and Religion in Medieval and Early Modern
            >Times_*
            >
            >*European Social Science History Conference (Ghent, Belgium, 13-16 April
            >2010)*
            >
            >How did merchants belonging to different religious groups conduct trade
            >with one another during the Medieval and Early Modern period? How did
            >different societies accommodate "infidels" in the interest of promoting
            >profitable commercial activity? We seek papers that focus on specific
            >instances of inter-faith commerce from around the world in the period
            >from 1000 to 1800. Papers from a variety of perspectives (e.g.
            >economic history, legal history, cultural history) are welcome. They
            >should be based on original research.
            >
            >We are particularly eager to receive contributions that approach two
            >inter-related themes:
            >
            >a) the emergence of institutions, technologies, and forms of social
            >organization that may have reduced the uncertainty of commercial
            >exchanges, which was particularly acute in the absence of family and
            >religious ties. For example, papers might explore the mechanics of
            >medium- to long-term credit between individuals and groups who shared no
            >religious affiliation and traded over significant distances. Analyses
            >of failed or coerced inter-faith commercial exchanges are also welcome
            >if they reveal larger patterns of cross-cultural interaction.
            >
            >b) the tension between economic pragmatism, legal prescriptions, and
            >religious prejudice. We are eager to link the mechanics of commercial
            >exchange to their broader cultural implications in a wide variety of
            >contexts and historical moments. In particular, we want to understand
            >how and whether the quest for profit either encouraged more tolerant
            >attitudes or merely enabled different groups to coexist in the context
            >of religious biases and patterns of segregation. The ultimate goal of
            >this session is to develop a comparative approach to these questions and
            >to trace changes over time, while respecting the historical
            >particularity of diverse cases.
            >
            >Please send a paper title and an abstract of no more than 800 words via
            >email to both session organizers no later than 1 April 2009. Proposals
            >should be written in English. We are especially keen to review papers
            >that combine empirical research and theoretical reflections.
            >
            >Francesca Trivellato
            >Professor of History
            >Yale University
            >Email: francesca.trivellato@...
            ><mailto:francesca.trivellato@...>
            >
            >Cátia Antunes
            >Assistant Professor of History
            >Leiden University
            >Email: c.a.p.antunes@...
            ><mailto:c.a.p.antunes@...>
          • Elson T. Elizaga
            [Mod. note. Edited and expanded a bit for clarity, and long URL replaced with tinyurl - SF.] I recently updated my notes summarizing political and
            Message 5 of 24 , Feb 13, 2009
              [Mod. note. Edited and expanded a bit for clarity, and long
              URL replaced with tinyurl - SF.]

              I recently updated my notes summarizing political and
              archaeological issues involving attempts
              to preserve the Huluga Open Site, Cagayan de Oro,
              Philippines -- which has been threatened by a
              major road-and-bridge project:

              http://tinyurl.com/dc4f3t

              I would welcome comments on the supposed distinctions between
              "habitation sites", "settlements", and "campsites", which have
              been used by local officials to justify destruction of the site.

              Elson
            • sebastian stride
              [Mod. note. Sebastian is commenting on the following post from the other day from Elson Elizaga, who described his struggles with government officials in the
              Message 6 of 24 , Feb 14, 2009
                [Mod. note. Sebastian is commenting on the following post from
                the other day from Elson Elizaga, who described his struggles with
                government officials in the Philippines to preserve the Huluga site:
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/12079 - SF]

                "Huluga was a Habitation, But Unlikely a Settlement".

                As an archaeologist, I fully agree with your evaluation of this statement:

                > I guess the profound mystery of this concept will continue to baffle the
                > international settlement of archaeologists. But not to worry. In the
                > archaeological camp of the University of the Philippines, this
                > koan-like riddle should make perfect sense."

                I know next to nothing about archaeology in the Philippines but I suspect that,
                like in many other countries, a section of the archaeological community continue
                to evaluate the relevance of ancient remains in function of so-called �major
                civilisations� (i.e. large walls, many artefacts = important ; scattered
                occupation = unimportant)�. HISCCOM seem to be suggesting that all hunter
                gatherer and nomadic evidence might as well be bulldozed. So goodbye to the
                Paleolithic, the Eurasian Steppes and let�s open a bottle of champagne for the
                advanced civilisations which colonised the backward isles now known as the
                Philippines.

                (In certain cases, archaeologists have been known to lend support to the
                destruction of archaeological sites for non ethical reasons� I guess / hope
                this is not the case ;-)

                Sebastian

                PS. If you think that a more official statement from the archaeological community would be useful, I am sure that many scholars would give you support.







                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Elson T. Elizaga
                Dear Sebastian, Thank you for your comment (quoted at the end). Your suspicion about HISCCOM is correct. Related to Huluga, but involving a separate area, a
                Message 7 of 24 , Feb 15, 2009
                  Dear Sebastian,

                  Thank you for your comment (quoted at the end). Your suspicion
                  about HISCCOM is correct.

                  Related to Huluga, but involving a separate area, a private group of
                  archaeologists educated at the Archaeological Studies Program (ASP) has
                  also made an Archaeological Impact Assessment that says that a section
                  of Mount Canatuan, Zamboanga del Norte, considered sacred by the Subanen
                  tribe, "has no archaeological artifacts" -- of course, because the
                  mountain is revered in the first place. This area is being mined by
                  Toronto Ventures, Inc., the same company that asked the archaeologists
                  to do the AIA. TVI is using the AIA to justify the exploitation of the
                  site: *See http://tinyurl.com/5ax2fu*

                  A leader of this tribe spoke during an anthropological conference and
                  claimed that the archaeologists also said the mountain is not sacred
                  because "it has no religious monuments and icons." I have no written nor
                  first-hand document of this statement, however, though Dr. Erlinda
                  Burton shared this information to me. For detailed report of the
                  struggle of the Subanen people to defend their sacred mountain, see
                  *http://tinyurl.com/cffjnc.*

                  Our group, the Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA), would certainly
                  welcome an official statement from the archaeological community on the
                  activities of ASP. As I am not an archaeologist, I do not know what kind
                  of action is required to stop what is referred to by anthropologist and
                  historian Dr. Antonio J. Montalvan II as "mercenary archaeology".

                  In the case of foreign companies hiring such archaeologists for
                  commercial purposes, it might help to identify the foreign investors. A
                  Canadian politician, or someone linked to a politician, for instance,
                  who is investing in questionable activities in the Philippines, should
                  be exposed.

                  TVI is listed in the Business and Human Rights Resource Center:

                  *http://tinyurl.com/c2wa2z

                  P.S. With your permission, I would like to forward your email below to
                  the egroup of the HCA.

                  Elson

                  sebastian stride wrote:

                  > [Mod. note. Sebastian is commenting on the following post from
                  > the other day from Elson Elizaga, who described his struggles with
                  > government officials in the Philippines to preserve the Huluga site:
                  > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/12079 - SF]
                  >
                  > "Huluga was a Habitation, But Unlikely a Settlement".
                  >
                  > As an archaeologist, I fully agree with your evaluation of this statement:
                  >
                  >
                  >> I guess the profound mystery of this concept will continue to baffle the
                  >> international settlement of archaeologists. But not to worry. In the
                  >> archaeological camp of the University of the Philippines, this
                  >> koan-like riddle should make perfect sense."
                  >>
                  >
                  > I know next to nothing about archaeology in the Philippines but I suspect
                  > that, like in many other countries, a section of the archaeological
                  > community continue to evaluate the relevance of ancient remains in
                  > function of so-called "major civilisations" (i.e. large walls, many
                  > artefacts = important ; scattered occupation = unimportant)....
                  > HISCCOM seem to be suggesting that all hunter
                  > gatherer and nomadic evidence might as well be bulldozed. So goodbye to the
                  > Paleolithic, the Eurasian Steppes and let's open a bottle of champagne for the
                  > advanced civilisations which colonised the backward isles now known as the
                  > Philippines.
                  >
                  > (In certain cases, archaeologists have been known to lend support to the
                  > destruction of archaeological sites for non ethical reasons-- I guess / hope
                  > this is not the case ;-)
                  >
                  > Sebastian
                  >
                  > PS. If you think that a more official statement from the archaeological community would be useful, I am sure that many scholars would give you support.
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