Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chariots horses of Bronze Age I

--> Salve os,

    I have been slowly collecting information of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Eurasian (and Egyptian to some extend) 'chariotry' and chariot stallions, the most instrumental source in this topic must be  Ms Littauer and Mr Crouwel 2001 opus magnum Selected Writings on Chariots and Other Early Vehicles, Riding and Harness.  But there are other books too Osprey's Bronze Age War Chariots, Mycenaeanians, Egypt New Age Kingdom, Hittite Warrior, Assyrian Army, Drews' End of Bronze Age and Early Riders, and here the most important An early History of Horsemanship by Azzaroli, Ann Nyland training manual for her Arabians based on Kikkuli text , and Peter Raulwing article on Kikkuli text, finally D.W. Anthony The Horse the Wheel and Language .
 Early in the period  - during the late 3rd millennium BC Central Asian horse breeders and warriors of Indoeuropean (Indo-Aryan) extraction brought horses and chariots from the Eurasian steppe into the lands of western Asia, along with chariot archery and rapid horse warfare.

For a equestrian history student this period - roughly 2300 BC to 330BC - 'starts with a big bang': the very first 'book' (part of the Hittite Horse tablets) on horse conditioning and training by a Mitanni (Hurrian) horsemaster (term 'assussanni' that contains Indo-Aryan word for horse - *asva) named Kikkuli who was most likely working for a Hittite king at Hattusa during XV century BC .
The text describes 184 day training of a stallion* or gelding* period (at least 7 months), that started during the autumn with feed and water management, stable treatments and bitting and harnessing until advanced endurance training when harnessed with another stallion or gelding to a chariot's yoke. While we use a generic name 'Kikkuli text' actually the training manual was a combination of Hurrian and Hittite trainers knowledge. The text contains some very interesting Indo-Aryan technical language (not used by the Hittites themselves, who used their own Indoeuropean language) and these terms talk about technical aspects of chariot horse training – eg, plaiting of horses' tails before yoking them to the chariot. There are also names for horse colors – reddish brown, grey, reddish yellow, greenish yellow etc. This color information later shows up in the Mittani records and Egyptian too – reddish, black etc usually sires (stallions) are depicted and often their coat is described in their names (eg curly hair, felt hair etc). Interestingly enough it does not give any information on actual war horse chariot training for battle, and the first known text on war horse training for battle is Xenophon's Peri hippica (IV century BC).

While Kikkuli text is old (from around 1500 BC, then copied in XIV century BC), it is not the oldest as it is apparent from the Hittite surviving library on horse text (archiving of such text was begun prior to Kikkuli text), that that had already some manuals in XVIII century BC, the so called Anitta Text indicates such (according to Kammenhuder 1961 and Raulwing).
Well, is getting late , so until the next time when I will tak more about the horse harness and chariot warrior elite aka 'mariyannu' (maryannu)...

Interesting discussion on Hittite chariotry here

* it is my rather informed belief that ancient horse warriors used stallions and geldings for war, and mare for the most valuable breeding, milk and meat.


Jan said...

Very cool stuff! I can't wait to read more. :)

I uploaded a text you might find interesting - not exactly a book, but a fun paper by Mike Loades about reconstructing a British chariot.

Dario T. W. said...

Hey Jan,
thanks - it will all come, in due time, I've got the text, but I have to draw the horses and chariots and warriors yet
thanks for the link- I will be writing and drawing Celtic chariot too
pa ka