Document Type : Research Article


1 PhD student of Archaeology, Mohaghegh Ardabili University, Ardabil, Iran.

2 Associate Professor, Department of archaeology, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran.

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Archeology, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran


In Indo-European culture, the function of the celestial gods is represented in connection with chariot, and in the Bronze Age, chariot has had a martial function in the Hittite and Egyptian civilizations. In addition, there is a lot of archaeological evidence of chariot from the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Greek and Iran during the Achaemenid period; but the functions of chariot and chariot riding in these civilizations are not properly known. So the main questions of this study are: what are the multiple functions of chariot in the civilizations of Mesopotamia, Greek and the Achaemenids in ancient times? And based on intercultural relations, what are the similarities and differences between these multiple chariot functions? The data of this research have been studied in a qualitative method in a manner descriptive, analytical and comparative. In general, the role of chariot in Indo-European mythology and the martial function of chariot in Hittite and Egyptian civilizations have directly and indirectly affected the functions of chariot in all three civilizations and these functions have interacted with other cultural aspects of these civilizations. Thus, the effect of chariot functions on the economy, social stratification, war, rituals and function of the celestial gods, sports and entertainment can be observed. In Mesopotamia, the military, mythological and recreational aspects of chariot, in Greek, the ritual, sports and social aspects of chariot, and in Iran, the military, social and mythological-ritual aspects of chariot have been more prominent.


Extended Abstract

The function of chariot in Achaemenid era Iran, ancient Mesopotamia and Greek

The most important functions of charioteer in Indo-European culture were the movement of these communities from valleys to plains and lowlands, which led to social dynamism in new areas and cultural interaction with the inhabitants of these areas, and finally the spread of Indo-European language and culture. In this culture, the celestial gods such as the sun, the Indian Nastiya, and the Persian Mitra had functions that represented the movement of the chariot, and the hero of the charioteer was the earthly symbol of these gods, that after death was been buried with the chariot. During the Bronze Age of the Middle East, Hittite and Egyptian civilizations used chariots on the battlefield. There is a lot of archeological evidence of chariots from the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Greek, and the Achaemenid Empire. So the main questions of this study are: what are the multiple functions of chariot in the civilizations of Mesopotamia, Greek, and the Achaemenids in ancient times? And based on intercultural relations, what are the similarities and differences between these multiple the chariot functions? Data of this study includes a variety of archaeological evidence and written documents, which have been collected to do a desk study by taking notes on cards. In this study, the data been studied with a holistic view to the different cultural dimensions of all three civilizations and intercultural relations with other cultures and civilizations such as Indo-European, Hittite, ancient Egypt, etc by the qualitative method in form descriptive, analytical, and comparative manner based on a social approach. In Mesopotamia, from the late Sumer period, city-states used chariots for war. In this civilization, the rich social class had the chariot and their charioteer made them a symbol of the earthly function of the gods Ishtar, Ningirsu, and Otto. Thus, they gained a kind of legitimacy to be appointed to great jobs. During the Assyrian period, with the acquisition of more wealth, it became possible to finance the chariot in large numbers, and in addition to war, chariot was also used for sports, recreation, and entertainment. The Mesopotamian kings represented their warlike and recreational chariot for the same legitimacy as the gods, these gods regulated and blessed the lives of the people of Mesopotamia. Chariot functions in Mesopotamia also influenced Iranian culture. The Iranian people brought chariot to Iran to oppose the two rival imperialisms of Assyria and Urartu. Iranian fighters seize power without a strong civilian structure and gain power and legitimacy by establishing security and their military function was represented in the function of the gods of the chariots of Mehr, Anahita, Soroush and, Ashi and in the royal celebration of Mehregan, the chariots of the gods Ahuramazda, Anahita and Mehr had a ritual function and symbolized the king's function. The Achaemenid military king, like the king of Assyria, used chariots for entertainment and hunting. The Achaemenids increased the efficiency of chariots in war by inventing the scythed chariots. In general, charioteer in Iran has been related to the military social class and its rituals. In the western world, ancient Greek, the chariot adapted the use of war from the Hittite civilization, however, this was not the main use of the chariot in Greek society. Influenced by Indo-European culture, the chariot race was first performed at the funeral of the heroic aristocracy, the chariot was a manifestation of his heroic aristocracy and function as a proud citizen who shone like the sun in life and went to the world of the dead at death. The Greek aristocracy, which paid for the chariots and horses were considered worthy and honored citizens. Nobles who sought more honor introduced an exciting chariot race to the Olympics, in which the general public competed as charioteers, shortly afterward, the women also ran this racing. This was in contrast to Mesopotamian civilization and the Achaemenid period, that chariots had only military use and domination. The gods of the charioteer all three civilizations of Mesopotamia, ancient Greek and the Achaemenid period were among the celestial gods who were influenced by the Indo-European god of the charioteer. The chariot was a symbol of the life-giving sun, like a kingdom that dies after a period of useful life, the sun also sets.


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