エトルリアの戦車 : その機能の変遷
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Etruscan Chariots: Transition of the Function.
The purpose of this paper is to trace the changes in the functions of “chariots” (vehicles pulled by horses during battles) in the ancient Mediterranean world, chiefly in Etruria. These chariots were inherently characterized by five elements: use in battle, transportability, high costs, high speed, and “rotatability.” To understand the significance of chariots in different areas and historical periods, it is important to determine which of these elements were emphasized. Thus, chariots were not simply war materiel, but were vehicles with extremely diverse functions, each reflecting the particular circumstances of a time and place. My immediate interest is the relationship between chariot racing and the origin of the city of Rome—as stated in legend to be 753 BCE—and this paper presents preliminary considerations in this direction. Two kinds of historical material serve as the basis for these considerations regarding “Etruscan chariots”—that is, chariots in the Italian Peninsula during the Etruscan era. Accordingly, they are: (1) excavated chariots, and (2) chariots depicted on walls of underground tombs.
My conclusions begin with the emergence of chariots in the Near East at the beginning of the second millenium BCE; subsequently, chariot warfare on the plains was developed in Egypt from the 14th to 13th centuries BCE. At that time, chariots were either used as battle vehicles from which arrows were shot or for troop transportation. In Greece (Mycenae), which had comparatively few plains, arrows were not shot from chariots; instead, chariots were used to carry (transport) aristocratic warriors, who then fought on foot. However, from the 7th century BCE, with the spread of phalanx warfare (i.e., heavy-infantry soldiers fighting in close formation), the decline of the individual soldier also coincided with the decline of chariots used for transport. Rather, they became used for competitions such as races, where vehicle speed was emphasized at particular sites which included those of the Ancient Olympics. During the Iron Age on the Italian Peninsula, chariots were initially used for troop transport, after which they were conceived as vehicles on which the dead rode to the Underworld––thus, used for “transport.” Meanwhile, for the same reasons as in Greece (phalanx warfare), the use of chariots for troop transport also declined on the Peninsula. Gradually, they were used in parades, as they became a status symbol of prestigious leaders (here, the high prices of chariots were on display). In this case, prominent persons rode in chariots to be seen by the people. By the 6th century BCE, chariot races became popular—their high-speed capabilities were emphasized—with servants substituting for their superiors as chariot drivers. Here, prominent persons transformed from persons on display to ones who became sponsor of the entertainments. Yet, the victory laurels or crowns were not awarded to the chariot drivers, but to their aristocratic owners. Thus, although the functions of chariots were ever changing, there consistently existed the rulersʼ will to build and maintain their countries.
As stated above, my main interest is the relationship between the founding of Rome and chariot competitions. The likelihood that chariot races were actually held in Rome around that time appears to be sufficiently substantiated by archeological findings. Of the chariots which have been excavated or depicted on underground tomb walls, some have been found in Veii, the Etruscan city-state that was near Rome, separated from it by the Tiber River. These facts give some evidence to my contention of a relationship between contemporary Rome and chariots. In regard to my thesis about Rome, this paper did not cover another key element of chariots, namely their ability to turn around (rotatability). My next paper will cover this topic.
The Hiroshima University studies, School of Letters
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Departmental Bulletin Paper
Departmental Bulletin Papers
Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences