The most impressive weapon of pre-classical antiquity was the war chariot, used in large numbers by many of the major powers of the time, and present in many items of monumental art. The image of the victorious ruler crushing defeated enemies below his chariot occurs again and again.
The author of this book is an expert horseman, and also an experimental archaeologist who has been involved in a number of reconstructions of ancient chariots. As a result he has a great deal of practical knowledge of the performance limits of the chariot and how that would have affected its military usefulness. This is combined with a detailed knowledge of the ancient sources to give a good idea of the role of the chariot in ancient warfare. Sources include the remains of actual chariots, depictions of chariots in various art forms, written accounts of battle and even some more theoretical writings on the correct uses of chariots. The book is organised by culture, an approach that allows the author to bring out the differences between different types of chariot.
There are some moments where the author goes a bit off course. We really don't need a page and a half discussing the reasons why he refers to the Indian Subcontinent as the Indian Subcontinent. He also has some pet theories that get repeated several times, in particular about the spread of chariot technology into China. Cavalry doesn't get too much coverage, other than an examination of when and why it replaced the chariot in some of these armies. More illustrations would also have been nice, although those that are present are useful.
Overall this is an interesting read, and provides a good overview of the development and use of war chariots across two and a half millennium.
1 - The Domestication of the Horse
2 - Central Asia
3 - Wheeled Transport before the Sumerians
4 - Sumer
5 - Mesopotamia Between the Sumerians and the Assyrians
6 - The Early Assyrian Empire
7 - The Later Assyrian Empire
8 - Elam
9 - Egypt
10 - Palestine, Syria and Cyprus
11 - Anatolia
12 - Europe: The Mycenaeans
13 - China
14 - The Indian Sub-continent
Author: Duncan Noble
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military