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chariot
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A light vehicle of war, usually carrying two people, a warrior, and a driver. Examples have been found from the Uruk period in Mesopotamia and the chariot was on the standard of Ur. It first appeared in the Near East in the 17 century BC, associated with the immigrant peoples who became the Hyksos, Kassites, and Hurri. Its arrival in Egypt can be fairly reliably dated to the Second Intermediate Period (1650-1550 BC). The Aryans carried it to India, and in China it formed the core of the Shang army. The Mycenaeans introduced it to Europe, where it spread widely and rapidly. It revolutionized warfare by allowing warriors to be transferred rapidly from one part of a battlefield to another. It was mainly for aristocrats, which explains its popularity as a funeral offering. Burials of complete chariots with horses and charioteers have been excavated in Shang China (1200 BC), in Cyprus from the 7th century BC, and among the La Tène Celts. The earliest Celt chariot burials are in the Rhineland and eastern France with dates around 500 BC, and later burials are in east Yorkshire and Europe as far east as Hungary, Bulgaria, and southern Russia. The chariot was replaced by the mounted warrior or knight when horses of sufficient strength had been bred in the late and post-Roman periods.

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