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July 14 Weekly Open Thread: Back to the Past.

Once again, we travel a bit off the beaten path -- literally, sort of -- and present you, the Car Lust reader, with a bit of automotive trivia: in this case, one of the forebears of our great automobile, the Egyptian chariot.

Watch Building Pharaoh's Chariot on PBS. See more from NOVA.



I mentioned these in another post on ancient wheeled vehicles and at the time noted that the vehicles then performed many of the same functions as do our modern engine-driven cars and trucks. In truth, there are far more similarities than differences in how they developed over time and the ancient engineers solved many of the same problems modern automotive designers faced: rider comfort, stability in tight turns, and durability.

What we have here is an effort in what is known as "experimental archaeology", modern people attempting to replicate something that ancient people made. A lot of times these are kind of useless and hokey (IMO), with a few amateurs in some endeavor spending a quick two weeks to build a device it took past artisans years to develop and perfect. But I like this project: they gave themselves a reasonable amount of time, used materials and techniques that were available to the ancient artisans where feasible, used epigraphic (pictures and texts) and archaeological (Tutankamun's burial chariots) evidence to guide the design, and then made it robust enough to actually test in something approaching a real-world scenario, in this case shooting arrows from a moving vehicle with some accuracy. And they used people with some experience in the techniques and objects under investigation.

You'll notice a few interesting features of the Egyptian war chariot, including multi-part spokes, what might be called an active suspension, and the ancient equivalent of leaf springs. As I said, they had to solve many of the same problems as modern automotive designers, albeit with different materials and power sources (i.e., horses).

And, as always, feel free to discuss anything else vehicle-related, be it ancient or modern.

 

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BTW, at some point nearer the end of that video they have the camera shooting a head-on view of the completed chariot with two horses attached coming at a full gallop right at you. It's really very striking and one can imagine the effect it would have had on infantry soldiers.

Long ago, while on the Universal Studios Tour in Cali, they had a chariot on display that had been used in "The Ten Commandments." http://www.thestudiotour.com/ush/attractions/images/romancourtyard/chariot2008.jpg

You could get in the thing and pretend you were chasing Moses and have your picture taken at the same time. But that picture looks like the chariot is not as available now.

That's the closest I've been to a real chariot. So far anyway.

Kinda looks like a Segway with horses attached to the front

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