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Open two- or four-wheeled vehicle of ancient origin. The chariot probably originated in Mesopotamia about 3000 BC; early monuments show heavy vehicles with solid wheels. Chariots were probably first used in royal funeral processions. Two-wheeled horse-drawn versions evolved for speed in battle c. 2000 BC, appearing first in Greece and later in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. Chariot racing was popular in Greece at the Olympic Games; in Rome it was the main event in the circus games, where two to four horses drew each lightweight chariot in a competition of four or six vehicles; and in Byzantium such races became the dominant events of civic life.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on chariot, visit Britannica.com.