Primitive chariot, probably c 2000 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Scale model of a simple chariot with two solid wooden wheels. The two-wheeled chariot was invented by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia probably some time between 3500 and 3000 BC. They were used as a means of transport, but would also be developed for use in war. The earliest chariots had solid wheels such as the ones on this model. The Hyksos, a people from Palestine, developed chariots with spoked wheels, which enabled superior speeds to be achieved. They used their chariots to deadly military effect when they invaded Egypt in around 1700 BC. The Egyptians further improved their design to develop fast, strong, lightweight chariots which formed an elite part of their army.