Early Egyptian chariot, c 1500 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Scale model. Chariots originated in Mesopotamia in around 3000 BC, and were introduced to Egypt from Palestine by the Hyksos in about 1790 BC. The Egyptian design marked a considerable improvement on earlier vehicles. They were of lightweight wooden construction, and the driver stood directly above the axle, distributing his weight in such a way as to place les strain on the horses allowing greater speed. The chariots had two wheels, and were used for general transport and in warfare. The carriage chariots had four spokes on each wheel, while a military chariot, such as this example, had six to provide more strength. The chariots carried a driver and an archer, and charioteers were regarded as an elite part of the Egyptian army.