TLDR: Chariots were ancient vehicles that were used for transportation and warfare. They were driven by a person called a charioteer and pulled by horses. The oldest known chariots were found in Russia and date back to around 1950-1880 BCE. Chariots were initially used for warfare but later became popular for travel, processions, games, and races.
Chariots were like fancy carts that were pulled by horses. They had two wheels and were open, with a guard at the front and sides. They were fast and light, making them perfect for ancient warfare during the Bronze and Iron Ages. But as time went on, other types of cavalry became more effective in battle, so chariots were used more for travel and special events.
The word "chariot" comes from a Latin word that was borrowed from a Gaulish word. In ancient Rome, they had different names for chariots depending on how many horses were pulling them. A biga had two horses, a triga had three, and a quadriga had four.
The invention of the chariot is believed to have taken place in the Eurasian Steppes, which is in modern-day Russia and Ukraine. The earliest evidence of wheeled vehicles comes from this region, dating back to the 4th millennium BCE. The domestication of horses was a major step in the development of chariots, and it is believed that horses were first domesticated in the Eurasian Steppes.
The spread of chariots is closely associated with early Indo-Iranian migrations. The Sintashta culture, which existed in modern-day Russia and Kazakhstan around 2000 BCE, is considered a strong candidate for the origin of chariots. These chariots spread throughout the Old World and played an important role in ancient warfare. They were also associated with the ancestors of modern domestic horses.
Chariots were also used in ancient India, where they were depicted in rock art and found in archaeological sites. The earliest depictions of chariots in India date back to the Chalcolithic period, around the 2nd millennium BCE. Chariots were an important part of Indian mythology and were associated with gods and goddesses.
The Persians were known for their use of chariots, including scythed chariots, which had blades attached to the wheels. The Persians used chariots extensively in warfare, but they were eventually replaced by cavalry.
Chariots were also used in ancient Egypt, where they were introduced by the Hyksos invaders in the 16th century BCE. The Egyptians used chariots as mobile archery platforms, with one person driving the chariot and another person shooting arrows. The best-preserved examples of Egyptian chariots are from the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Chariots were also used in ancient Greece, where they were used in games, processions, and races. The Greeks adopted chariots from the Mycenaean Greeks and used them in various ceremonial functions. However, the rocky terrain of Greece made chariots less practical for everyday transportation.
In summary, chariots were ancient vehicles that were used for transportation and warfare. They were driven by charioteers and pulled by horses. Chariots were initially used for warfare but later became popular for travel, processions, games, and races. They were used in various ancient civilizations, including Russia, India, Persia, Egypt, and Greece.