How to Build an Ancient Chariot

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Many different cultures and empires used chariots as a means of transport. Chariots were smaller and lighter than horse-drawn carts, which made them faster. Because of their speed, chariots became a common military weapon and the Romans even raced them. Today, reenactment societies build chariots for public demonstrations.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwood
  • Wooden poles
  • Saw
  • Metal collars
  • Steam chamber
  • Glue
  • Nails

The Wheels

  • Saw a wooden pole to the desired length you wish for the width of the chariot. This pole will become the fixed axle that connects the wheels together and act as the chassis. A hardwood pole such as oak is best, about 2 inches in diameter.

  • Cut a hardwood circle to act as a mold for the wheel rims. The size is up to you but most chariot wheels vary from 2 to 4 feet in diameter. Cut the wheel rim from the wood 2 inches longer than the circumference of the mold. Ensure the rim is thick enough to provide adequate strength.

  • Steam the rim overnight or until it becomes malleable enough to bend. Saw a square gap 2 inches long on the underside of one end and the upper side of the other. Wrap the rim around the mold and join the two gaps together. Clamp or tie in place.

  • Remove the rim. Glue and nail the joins together. Repeat all these steps to create the rim for the other wheel.

  • Cut a hardwood disc for the center of the wheel, large enough to accommodate the axle in the center and have the spokes connected to it.

  • Cut six spokes from the wooden poles. Again, hardwood is best for strength with a similar thickness as the axle (2 inches in diameter). Each spoke should reach the rim's edge from the hardwood disc in the center. The spokes should not be too long as to inhibit the axle. Bore gaps in the hardwood disc and the rim large enough to accommodate the spokes. Glue the spokes in place.

  • Cut a hole in the center disc for the axle. Attach the axle and hold it in place using the metal collars.

The Body

  • Cut out a platform large enough to stand on. Attach one side to the axle using nails.

  • Steam and bend one of the wooden poles to form the yoke. The yoke needs shaping so when nailing the bottom end flat to the platform, the rest points upwards at a 60 degree angle.

  • Steam and bend a pole to form the handle and side bars. This should attach to the rear of the platform and curve up, overhanging the front where the rider will hold on to it. Attach the handle using nails. The chariot is now complete and ready for attaching to a horse.

Tips & Warnings

  • Covering the axle where the wheels go with a metal strip will prevent wear on the axle.
  • If you don't have access to a steam chamber, place the wood over bowls of boiling water and use a towel to trap the steam.
  • You can cover the side bars with wood or canvas, which you can decorate.
  • Make sure all joints have dried before attempting to use the chariot.

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References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
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