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Encyclopedia > Scythed chariot
The charge of the Persian scythed chariots at the battle of Gaugamela, by Andre Castaigne (1898-1899).
The charge of the Persian scythed chariots at the battle of Gaugamela, by Andre Castaigne (1898-1899).

The scythed chariot was a modified war chariot. A scythed chariot was a war chariot with a blade(s) mounted on both ends of the axle. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 523 pixelsFull resolution (2409 × 1574 pixel, file size: 1. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 523 pixelsFull resolution (2409 × 1574 pixel, file size: 1. ... Combatants Macedon Achaemenid Persia Commanders Alexander the Great Darius III Strength 47,000 (among 7,000 cavalry) 52,000-1,000,000 (among 45,000 cavalry) Casualties 4,000 40,000[3] In the Battle of Gaugamela (IPA: ) in 331 BC Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeated Darius III of... A traditional wooden scythe A scythe (IPA: , most likely from Old English siðe, sigði) is an agricultural hand tool for mowing and reaping grass or crops. ... For other uses, see Chariot (disambiguation). ... An axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. ...


History

Some scholars believe the scythed chariot was invented by Ajatashatru, the King of Magadha in Ancient India, in circa 475 BC, who used these chariots against the Licchavis. There is another significant theory that it was invented by Cyrus The Great . But as Herodotus does not mention them in the Xerxes's invasion of Greece that seems unlikely. Ajatasatrus stupa in Rajgir, where his ashes were interred Ajātashatru (Sanskrit अजातशत्रु; ruled 491-461 BCE) was a king of the Magadha empire that ruled north India. ... Magadha was an ancient kingdom of India, mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. ... Ancient India may refer to: The ancient History of India, which generally includes the ancient history of the whole Indian subcontinent (South Asia) Indus Valley Civilization — during the Bronze Age Vedic period — the period of Vedic Sanskrit, spanning the late Bronze Age and the earlier Iron Age Mahajanapadas — during the... Licchavi (also Lichchhavi, Lichavi) was an ancient kingdom in Nepal, which existed in the Kathmandu Valley from approximately 400 to 750. ... Cyrus the Great (Old Persian: Kūruš,[1] modern Persian: کوروش بزرگ, Kurosh-e Bozorg) (c. ... Xerxes may refer to these Persian kings: Xerxes I, reigned 485–465 BC, also known as Xerxes the Great. ...


The blades extended horizontally for a meter on the sides of the chariot. Xenophon, an eyewitness, describing the scythed chariots at the battle of Cunaxa says, "These had thin scythes extending at an angle from the axle and also under the driver's seat, turned towards the ground". Xenophon, Greek historian Xenophon (In Greek , ca. ... The Battle of Cunaxa was fought in 401 BC between Cyrus the Younger and his elder brother Arsaces, who had seized the Persian throne as Artaxerxes II in 404 BC. Cyrus gathered an army of Greek mercenaries under the Spartan general Clearchus, and met Artaxerxes at Cunaxa on the left...


The scythed chariot was pulled by a team of four horses and manned by a crew of up to three men, one driver and two warriors. Theoretically the scythed chariot would plow through infantry lines, cutting combatants in half or at least opening gaps in the line which could be exploited. It was difficult to get horses to charge into the tight phalanx formation of the Greek/Macedonian hoplites (infantry). The scythed chariot avoided this inherent problem for cavalry, by the scythe cutting into the formation, even when the horses avoided the men. A disciplined army could diverge as the chariot approached, and then collapse quickly behind it, allowing the chariot to pass without causing many casualties. War chariots had limited military capabilities. They were strictly an offensive weapon and were best suited against infantry in open flat country where the charioteers had room to maneuver. At a time when cavalry were without stirrups, and probably had neither spurs nor an effective saddle, though they certainly had saddle blankets, scythed chariots added weight to a cavalry attack on infantry. Our historical sources come from the infantry side of such engagements i.e. the Greek and Roman side. So this weapon has had a bad press. Here is the one-recorded encounter where scythed chariots were on the winning side: “The soldiers had got into the habit of collecting their supplies carelessly and without taking precautions. And there was one occasion when Pharnabazus, with 2 scythed chariots and about 400 cavalry, came on them when they were scattered all over the plain. When the Greeks saw him bearing down on them, they ran to join up with each other, about 700 altogether; but Pharnabazus did not waste time. Putting the chariots in front, and following behind them himself with the cavalry, he ordered a charge. The chariots dashing into the Greek ranks, broke up their close formation, and the cavalry soon cut down about a hundred men. The rest fled and took refuge with Agesilaus, who happened to be close at hand with the hoplites.” (Xenophon Hellenica IV,1,17-19) Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse (Equus caballus, sometimes seen as a subspecies of the Wild Horse, Equus ferus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ... Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Infantry are soldiers who fight primarily on foot with small arms in organized military units, though they may be transported to the battlefield by horses, ships, automobiles, skis, bicycles, or other means. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The hoplite was a heavy infantryman that was the central focus of warfare in Ancient Greece. ... Not to be confused with Golgotha, which was called Calvary. ... A spur is a metal instrument composed of a shank, neck, and prick, rowel (sharp-toothed wheel), or blunted end fastened to the heel of a horseman. ... A saddle is a seat for a rider fastened to an animals back. ... Pharnabazus was a Persian soldier and statesman, the son of Pharnaces, belonged to a family which from 478 BC governed the satrapy of Phrygia on the Hellespont, from its headquarters at Dascylium, and, according to a discovery by Th. ... Pharnabazus was a Persian soldier and statesman, the son of Pharnaces, belonged to a family which from 478 BC governed the satrapy of Phrygia on the Hellespont, from its headquarters at Dascylium, and, according to a discovery by Th. ... Agesilaus II, or Agesilaos II, king of Sparta, of the Eurypontid family, was the son of Archidamus II and Eupolia, and younger step-brother of Agis II, whom he succeeded about 401 BC. Agis had, indeed, a son Leotychides, but he was set aside as illegitimate, current rumour representing him...


One of the most notable defeats to the Persian scythed chariot was in combat against the Macedonian phalanx led by Alexander the Great. Realizing that the chariots were already a cumbersome element of the Persian army (as shock units are prone to be) led by Darius III, the phalangites were instructed to increase this disadvantage. At the last seconds before the chariots would close with infantry, the phalangites would quickly fold into an enveloping formation in the shape of an E, where the middle tab would be the chariot. By doing this, the chariots would be trapped by the bodies of soldiers it killed, and the long Greek sarissa. This particular tactic was most successful at the Battle of Gaugamela, where Darius fled. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For the film of the same name, see Alexander the Great (1956 film). ... Darius III or Codomannus (c. ... The sarissa (or sarisa) was a 3 to 7 meter (13-21 feet) long double pointed pike used in the Macedonian phalanx. ... Combatants Macedon Achaemenid Persia Commanders Alexander the Great Darius III Strength 47,000 (among 7,000 cavalry) 52,000-1,000,000 (among 45,000 cavalry) Casualties 4,000 40,000[3] In the Battle of Gaugamela (IPA: ) in 331 BC Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeated Darius III of...


Despite these shortcomings, scythed chariots were used with some success by the Persians, the kingdoms of the Hellenistic Era. They are last known to have been used at the battle of Zela 47BC. The Romans are reported to have defeated this weapon system, not necessarily at this battle, with caltrops. On other occasions the Romans fixed vertical posts in the ground behind which their infantry were safe (Frontinus strategems 2,3,17-18) The Hellenistic period of Greek history was the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome in 146 BC. Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which... Caltrop with hollow spikes to puncture self-sealing rubber tires Contemporary caltrop improvised from large nails welded together. ... Sextus Julius Frontinus (c. ...

The statue of Boudica or Boudicea near Westminster Pier has her in a scythed chariot as commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft (completed in 1905).
The statue of Boudica or Boudicea near Westminster Pier has her in a scythed chariot as commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft (completed in 1905).

The Romans are not reported ever to have fought against scythed chariots in the west. Nevertheless the following statement about the British was made immediately after the Roman invasion of 43 AD. “They make war not only on horseback but also from 2 horse chariots and cars armed in the Gallic fashion – they call them covinni – on which they use axles equipped with scythes” (Pomponius Mela (3,52) c. 44 AD). No one knows how much value to give to this statement. There is the deep suspicion that it reflects Claudian propaganda to add glory to the Roman invasion of Britain by making the Britons more sophisticated than they were. Statue of Boudicca near Westminster Pier Taken by A. Brady on November 28, 2003. ... Statue of Boudicca near Westminster Pier Taken by A. Brady on November 28, 2003. ... Boudica and Her Daughters near Westminster Pier, London, commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft Boudica (also spelt Boudicca, formerly better known as Boadicea) (d. ... Boudicca (also written Boudica, Boadicea, Buduica, Bonduca), was a Celtic female chieftain who led the Iceni and a number of other Celtic tribes, including the neighbouring Trinovantes, in a major uprising against the occupying Roman forces in Britain in AD 60 or 61 during the reign of the emperor Nero. ... Westminister Millennium Pier is a pier on the River Thames, in the City of Westminster. ... Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (in full Francis Charles Augustus Albert Emmanuel) (26 August 1819 – 14 December 1861) was the husband and consort of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. ... Thomas Thornycroft (1815—1885) was a British engineer and sculptor. ... 1905 (MCMV) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar). ...


There is a statement in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae Severus Alexander LV that he captured 1,800 scythed chariots. This is universally regarded as false. But it is interesting that neither of these two later sources use the word quadriga for the chariot, implying that if they existed, these chariots no longer required four horses. The Augustan History (Lat. ...


Late in the Imperial period the Romans might have experimented with an unusual variant of the idea that called for cataphract-style lancers to sit on a pair or a single horse drawing a "chariot" reduced to a bare axle with wheels, where the blades were only lowered into the fighting position at the last moment. This would have facilitated manoeuvering before battle. This at least is a reasonable interpretation of the rather enigmatic de Rebus Bellicis section 12-14. (Most probably the 2-horse version was a practical weapon which inspired the 1-horse version as an underpowered paper innovation by the armchair author of this text.) A cataphract (from the Greek κατάφρακτος katafraktos, plural katafraktoi) was a form of heavy cavalry used by nomadic eastern Iranian tribes and dynasties and later Greeks and Latin-speaking peoples. ... Anonymi Auctoris De Rebus Bellicis is a 4th or 5th century writer on Roman warfare, especially about war machines used by the Roman army of the time. ...


There is no accepted archaeological evidence concerning scythed chariots. There are some large heavy scythe blades from late Roman Britain which are assumed to have an agricultural machine function, as they are too unwieldy for a man to use.


A Scythed chariot also appears in Irish legend [1] and also as one of Leonardo da Vinci's ideas [2]


Popular culture

The chariot race of Ben-Hur in a 1901 stage production. No scythes are visible.

A scythed chariot can be seen in the great chariot race of the movie Ben Hur, operated by Messala (here called a "Greek chariot" or a "beaked chariot."). Scythed chariots are seen in the first colosseum scene in the movie Gladiator. In the film Alexander by Oliver Stone, scythed chariots are shown charging into Macedonian phalanx during the beginning of Battle of Gaugamela scene. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 543 pixelsFull resolution (2788 × 1891 pixel, file size: 663 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 543 pixelsFull resolution (2788 × 1891 pixel, file size: 663 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Ben-Hur is the fictional story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Judean aristocrat who, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, is enslaved through the betrayal of his Roman friend Messala. ... Ben-Hur is a 1959 epic film directed by William Wyler, and is the most popular live-action version of Lew Wallaces novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880). ... The name Messala can refer to several people: The Roman general Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus. ... Gladiator is a 2000 historical action drama film. ...


References

  • A.L.F. Rivet, 1979. A note on scythed chariots Antiquity vol. 53 pp.130-2
  • Alexander K. Nefiodkin, 2004. On the origin of the Scythed Chariots Historia vol. LIII/3 pp369-78

  Results from FactBites:
 
Chariot (4263 words)
Chariots are also an important part of both Hindu and Persian mythology, with most of the gods in their pantheon portrayed as riding them.
A scythed chariot was a war chariot with a blade(s) mounted on both ends of the axle.
Chariots are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, particularly by the prophets, as instruments of war or as symbols of power or glory.
Finance Choices - Personal Finance Wiki (3900 words)
A scythed chariot was a war chariot with a blade(s) mounted on both ends of the axle.
The chariot, together with the horse itself, was introduced to Egypt during the reign of the Hyksos dynasty in the 16th century BC.
Chariots are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, particularly by the prophets, as instruments of war or as symbols of power or glory.
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