The chariot.

The chariot was a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle introduced to Egypt from Western Asia around 1700 BC. The principle of the wheel had been known from the beginning of Egyptian history, but wheeled carriages had not been used. This was probably because boats on the Nile offered such an ideal means of transport.

A chariot was a light vehicle, made mostly of wood and leather, and so was not suitable for the transport of heavy goods. Its main use was in warfare. Usually it was manned by a charioteer who was in charge of the team of two horses, and an archer. The main advantage of a chariot was its mobility. It was ideally suited for approaching at speed and allowing the archer to discharge his arrows into the massed ranks of enemy infantry, or for pursuit of the fleeing enemy, but not for a direct attack.

By the time of king Tutankhamun, there were special units of chariotry in the Egyptian army.

The chariot was also used as a means of personal transport by the king and high-ranking officials.

One of the chariots of king Tutankhamun, found in his tomb and reconstructed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Harry Burton photograph 540B, copyright Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

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