I enjoy these programs from a history point of view and really was fascinated by some of the comments on the engineering of the carriage
But I have to comment that each time these programs come on its like a great revelation - OMG we just didnt KNOW ! ! !
WE have a book on Early Harness Systems (Spruytte - JA Allen publ)
from 1983 which is based on research from the mid to late 60s
It talked about the inovations of the wheel design. Discussed various styles of ancient neck yoke harness etc
So its not like these people were starting from scratch
There was also another program on chariots of the Egyptians and the function of the war machine - probably 5-8 years or more ago on either history channel of Nat Geo??? not sure which
I did find the horse womans input somewhat frustrating because she wanted loose and sloppy fitting harness because it would be MORE comfortable. That never works.
Plus I have to give a lot of credit to the beta-testers
I would not want to be galloping a pair of ponies with minimal training time to a vehicle that is barely out of the production floor
Oh Yeah - I wanted to add that the above mentioned book suggested that the horses were likely 13H or less based on skeletal remains in the tombs and extrapolating from the tomb wall drawings
they found that the proportions of the vehicle did not work with larger animals, as draft became distorted
they also had an interesting discussion on measuring horses. Apparantly pre-middle ages horses were measured with a "chain" draped from wither to ground and contoured to the curves of the animal. And until the development of the draft breeds for pure bulk and strength - most horses were under 14H and more like 13H
A chain? I didn't know that. Thanks for that info - one learns something new every day here.
You mentioned the skeltons of equines found with chariots - so one wonders why that wasn't explored by this team alongside their slavish study of ancient wall art to duplicate the war chariot. Maybe (guessing here) ... because Egypt only has donkeys and weedy Arabs, and the team had to use what was available due to time and travel constraints. I know the Assyerians used asses (or mules? Something with long ears, anyway) to their chairots, but... (I'm guessing here again) even a narrow, weedy, small Arab has a bit more TV appeal than those pathetic down trodden overloaded little donks they were filming as part of the local color.
On the plus side the program's description and demonstration of the development of the six spoked wheel - THAT was really interesting!
I agree with you that the horses were thin. There's a difference between fit and lean and a horse that just needs more feed. But, with the political stuff going on in Egypt these days and the drop in the tourist trade, (I don't know when the show was filmed) it may be that the owners were using some of the money for using the horses to just feed them.
I went to Egypt in '04 and saw many in the same boat, especially in Luxor - thin, badly harnessed and overloaded. One image that still sticks in my mind is of a horse that had a wire for a noseband and it was cutting into his nose..
When I got back, I decided that I wanted to try to help in some way. I found The Brooke Hospital for Animals. I can't find the rules about advertising, so I don't know how much I can say, but I hope they will allow this link to stand.
The Egyptian horses were pony sized, the area was not very good for making big horses and this was a possible reason that the Egyptians drove their horses into battle instead of rode them. It wasn't until about 2,000 BC that we find art showing people riding horses and the art seems to be of servants indicating that wealthy people did not ride. There are a lot of documents from ancient sources talking about size of horses. People remarking on a certain region's large horses, as well as official rules stating people were required to breed horses of a certain height, and feeding requirements to make sure the horses grew to their potential.
Originally the egyptian horses wore bridles similar to oxen (Egyptians started out going into battle with wagons driven by ox), with pressure pieces around the nose that squished their noses and cut off their breathing. They eventually moved to bits, and after that added check reins to the chariot horses, as well as running martingales