WHEELS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
Valerie Martlew, U.K.
AND the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen - (Exodus 14:23.)
And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen - (I Kings 10:26.)
To trace the history of the distribution of wheeled transport through the MiddleEast and Europe is also to trace the migrations of the descendants of Israel to their
"appointed place". The fact that a highly developed chariot was in use in the British Isles very early in their history is yet another clue to the identity of the British
and kindred peoples. It is likely that wheeled transport was first invented in Mesopotamia.
Scientists believe that the wheel was developed from the roller,originally a log, and eventually some brilliant person realised that a slice of a log, fixed to an axle,
would save a lot of weight and friction.Tree trunk rollers were probably used in Neolithic times, and it has been postulated that they must have been used to build the Pyramids, and perhaps Stonehenge, in Wiltshire. Primitive wheels were of no use in the boggy conditions at the end of the Ice Age, but as the ground dried out,
various communities began to realise and exploit their potential.
The earliest representations of wheeled vehicles date from 3,500 B.C., and are on tablets from the Innana temple at Erech in Sumer. By the third millennium B.C. they were in use in the Central Asian Steppes and the Indus Valley and by the second millennium they were in use in Europe, even though the wheel was quite unknown to the American Continent until its discovery by Columbus. In the first place oxen and onagers (wild asses) drew the carts, but the horse had been domesticated early in the second millennium B.C., and was used for drawing wheeled transport in Persia and Cappadocia. At about the same time, spoked wheels were invented, as archaeologists have found from discoveries of seals and clay models. This was a great breakthrough, as it made the wheel lighter
The wheeled vehicle encouraged civilisation by facilitating mass migrations, growth of trade and improvement of farming methods. It was also discovered to be invaluable in large-scale wars, and chariots were used in the armies of the Sumerians, Hittites, Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Celts. The descendants of Abraham had contact with all these peoples, and in many cases were actually akin to them.
Abraham knew of chariots and wheeled vehicles, for he came from Ur of the Chaldees. In the British Museum, on tablets from the Royal Tombs of Ur,of the third millennium B.C., there are illustrations of five war chariots with solid wheels and low-sided, high-fronted bodies, to shield the fighters.
The Egyptians are thought to have invented wheels early in their history, but then abandoned them for a time, as their roads were too soft in the muddy plains of the Nile Valley. Neither were they of any use to the Egyptians in the deserts either side of the flood plains of the Nile.
The first mention of the chariot in the Bible is in Genesis 41:43. Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, had become Viceroy or Prime Minister of Egypt, and he rode in Pharaoh's "second chariot". Keller, in "The Bible as History", says:
"The ceremonial chariot, harnessed to thoroughbred horses, was in those days the Rolls-Royce of the governors. The first chariot belonged to the ruler, the 'second chariot' was occupied by his chief minister".
Joseph lived in Egypt during the troubled period of the reign of the Hyksos, whose name means "rulers of foreign lands". Keller describes their conquest of Egypt thus ("The Bible as History", p. 101):
"Something incredible and frightful befell the Nile country about 1730 B.C. Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, warriors in chariots drove into the country. Even before the Egyptians realised it, it had happened: their country was taken by surprise, overrun and vanquished. The Giant of the Nile, who never before in his history had seen foreign conquerors, lay bound and prostrate."
"The rule of the victors began with a bloodbath. The Hyksos, Semitic tribes from Canaan and Syria, knew no pity."
The chariot preceded the children of Abraham into Egypt,and was taken there by a kindred people. Four hundred years later the descendants of Jacob left Egypt
under the leadership of Moses, and were pursued by the chariots of Pharaoh. Everyone knows the story of their destruction in the Red Sea, as told in Exodus,
chapter 14. Archaeological research in the Red Sea has discovered wheel and axle shapes, covered in coral, which point to their being some of the parts of chariots which were overwhelmed by the waters of the Red Sea after the Israelites had escaped to the other side, The experts have noticed four and six spoked wheels that
they know were in use in the time of the Pharaoh of the Exodus. In this twenty-first century many things are coming to light that prove the Bible narrative, and as
science gains in knowledge and techniques, we may expect further corroboration of Biblical truth.
Once settled in Canaan, the children of Israel began to build their own chariots, and were highly skilled in this art by Solomon's time. In I Kings, chapter 10,
Solomon's chariots and horsemen are mentioned, and the cities of his charioteers. Megiddo was one such city, which has been excavated by archaeologists. They
found several large stables. Manyof them still had the remains of feeding and watering troughs. There were stables for 450 horses and sheds for 150 chariots (see I
Kings 9:15and 19).
After the captivity of the Northern House of Israel in 721 B.C., the Israelites were dispersed throughout Europe and Asia Minor, so we may trace the movements of their various branches by the discoveries of chariots. The "New English Encyclopaedia" (1st Edit. article "carts, etc.") states:
"From Egypt and Mesopotamia chariots spread westwards. Mycenaean chariots derived ultimately from those used by peoples of the Caspian and Black Sea areas."
These areas are the earliest places in which the Israelitish fugitives from Assyria settled. The same Encyclopaedia also mentions that the chariot was introduced into Rome by the Etruscans; and these people were a branch of the Hebrew race, as their culture and language reveal. The Celts were a race that originated in the Caspian and Black Sea areas, and their culture spread throughout Europe to the British Isles. In this area, the "Ten Lost Tribes" of Israel were last documented as being active.
Secular authorities state that the development of the wheel may be attributed to the Celts while they were in the long process of working their way across Europe.
They are credited with realising that energy was being wasted by the fact that the fixed axle turned as well as the wheel. Spokes, to lighten the wheel, and thus save
energy, had been invented around 2,000 B.C., enabling the chariot to be developed for military purposes. However, friction still slowed the transport, and some
bright person realised that if the wheel turned independently of the axle by rotating around it, the vehicle became much more flexible, allowing the wheels to rotate at different speeds on corners, much facilitating manoeuvring. Later, bearings were invented, greatly reducing the remaining friction.
The "New English Encyclopaedia" also says:
"The Celts, however, excelled in the construction and use of chariots, and retained them as a military arm for a long period, on fronts from the Danube to Britain.The earliest Hallstatt Celtic chariots were generally heavy and four-wheeled, but the later La Tene warlords were carried in two-wheeled, lighter chariots of the Greek type."
"Examples from Dejbjerg in Denmark, though they should strictly be regarded as wagons, show the skill with which the makers constructed the wheels, with felloes of one piece, swivel front axles and rollerbearings in the hub. Celtic wheels were generally made with spokes dowelled into the hub and dowelled or mortised into the felloe. Hubs were sometimes bound with iron collars. The lighter war-chariots held a crew of two, and Caesar depicted the Britons running out along the draught-pole to the yoke, presumably in order to cast their javelins."
Julius Caesar described the Britons and Celts as skilled charioteers and therefore the ancient Britons must have possessed good roads, for a chariot is useless on a primitive track. Chariot building also demands wheelwrights and people skilled in the working of wood and iron.We are still taught in our schools the error that the network of well-constructed, broad, straight highways in our country was built by the Romans, who brought this benefit of civilisationto a backward people; but in fact, these roads were constructed long before the Romans came. Caesar was met by war chariots. The Dover to Holyhead Road was originally the Sarn Wyddelin, or Irish Road, linking Britain with Hibernia. It was later called Watling Street. The Sarn Ikin was similarly changed to the Icknield Way.These roads were begun by the lawgiver, Molmutius (450 B.C.) and completed by his son Belinus by 400 B.C. On their completion a law was enacted, making the roads free to all the nation and foreigners. A similar network of ancient roads exists in Ireland, where the Romans never penetrated.
Moving further on in history, to the invasion of Britain by tribes from Scandinavia, which were branches of the same Israelitish stock, Du Chaillu, in "The Viking Age" says:
"That the Northmen had carriages or chariots as well as horses is proved by the numerous skeletons in graves or bogs. Their dress, and the splendour of the riding equipment for war, the richness of the ornamentation of their weapons, are often carefully described."
Wherever Israelites and their kindred went, they took chariots as part of their civilisation and culture. Merely by studying the subject of wheeled vehicles we may
discover further proofs that the British people are of Israelitish stock, and that the ancient Britons had a high degree of civilisation, being far from the "woad-painted
savages" they are popularly believed to have been.
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