The Horse Reshaped Civilization — Without Horseback Riding

Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut) fighting via chariot, 1300’s B.C.E.

You’d think horses became important when people started to ride. But actually the horse reshaped civilization long before the first cavalry charge or mounted messenger. During the centuries following 2000 B.C.E., warriors of China, India, the Fertile Crescent, and other lands began riding chariots: light-weight, two-wheeled buggies pulled by teams of horses. The chariot allowed an archer and his driver to move at the speed of a horse, scattering hapless infantrymen before thundering charges. Faster-moving armies could cover more territory, so empires replaced the little kingdoms of the early Bronze Age. Chariots also led to a feudal structure in many kingdoms, where kings outsourced the high costs of charioteers and their gear to regional lords, who fielded armies of chariots — just as Medieval Europe’s feudal dukes and barons later fielded armies of armored knights. Continue reading “The Horse Reshaped Civilization — Without Horseback Riding”