Definitions

hallstattian

Chariot burial

Chariot burials are tombs in which the deceased was buried together with his chariot, usually including his (more rarely, her) horses and other possessions.

The earliest chariots known are from chariot burials of the Andronovo (Timber-Grave) sites of the Sintashta-Petrovka culture in modern Russia, clustering along the upper Tobol river, southeast of Magnitogorsk, from around 2000 BC, containing spoke-wheeled chariots drawn by teams of two horses. This culture is at least partially derived from the earlier Yamna culture, and is generally accepted as an early Proto-Indo-Iranian culture. The Krivoye Ozero chariot grave contained a horse skull, three pots, two bridle cheek pieces, and points of spears and arrows. The bones were dated to an average of 2026 BC.

Later chariot burials are found in China, the most famous was discovered in 1933 at Hougang, Anyang of central China's Henan Province, dating to the rule of King Wu Ding of the Yin Dynasty (ca. 1200 BC). A Western Zhou (9th century BC) chariot burial was unearthed at Zhangjiapo, Chang'an in 1955.

In Europe, chariot burial was mainly an Iron Age Celtic custom, most probably of Thraco-Cimmerian origin (the Thraco-Cimmerians established themselves as the ruling class, over the proto-Celtic Hallstattian peoples, and their steppe-culture influenced the subsequent Celtic La Tene culture). A tomb from the 4th century BC was discovered in La Gorge-Meillet (Marne, France). The only Etruscan find dates to ca. 530 BC, and is preserved in pristine quality, see Etruscan chariot.

In Britain, the earliest sites date to around 500 BC, probably coinciding with the Celtic immigration to the British Isles. Finds of burials are rare, and the persons interred were presumably chieftains or wealthy notables. The Wetwang chariot burial of ca. 300 BC is an exception in that a woman was interred with the chariot. Some 21 British sites are known, spanning approximately four centuries, virtually all in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The Ferrybridge and Newbridge chariots, are unusual in Britain as they are the only ones to be buried intact. The burial custom seems to have disappeared with the Roman occupation of Britain.

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