Thursday, December 26, 2013

Assyrian Chariots

OK, show of hands... is there anyone out there who doesn't love chariots?  No? I didn't think so! Maybe it's the iconic scenes of the chariot race from the movie Ben Hur, or images of Caesar riding in a chariot through the streets of Rome during one of his Triumphs, or the Egyptians pursuing the Hebrews as they crossed the parting waters of the Red Sea; regardless, chariots are just, well... cool! . While their effectiveness on the battlefield my have been less than we might like think, they are just something you naturally want some of in your collection.The Assyrian empire in particular was smack in the middle of the gradual development of effective battlefield cavalry, which began the transition of these magnificent looking vehicles of war from being the stars of the battlefield to largely assuming ceremonial roles.

These are Minifigs Assyrian Light Chariots.

Although of a heavier design than the ultra light Egyptian vehicles, these were probably still largely Archery platforms.

Their mobility (compared to foot soldiers) certainly contributed to their usefulness for scouting and/or surprise/flank attacks.

I used narrow paper tape that came with some plastic 54mm Napoleonic Old Guard band figures (for use in modeling the cross belts) that I bought decades ago to make the traces for the chariots; I think it looks very effective. I haven't yet found anything that I like to replace it on my newer models, however. 

These less elegantly constructed  Assyrian chariots would seem to have provided both crew and horses with better protection than their Egyptian counterparts.

I've chosen bold, complimentary color schemes for my Chariots. 

This is the first of my Assyrian Heavy Chariots models. The crew all wear metal torso armor (mail).

These are big, heavy looking vehicles, pulled by 4 horses and having a crew of four men (usually depicted as a driver, 2 archers, and a shield bearer/melee armed trooper are depicted). 

 There is controversy now as to whether these impressive war machines were actual used on the battlefield, or whether they had already passed into (largely) ceremonial usage by the later years of the Assyrian Empire

These castings are by Hinchliffe; indeed, I believe they are the only Hinchliffe figures I own!

Regardless of their age (the designs  must be 40 years old), these are gorgeous models

They are still available through Hinds figures.

It  looks like the current price is about 12 Euros per set, which is pretty reasonable, I'd say!

I actually bought of few more of these a number of years back to (eventually) beef up my Assyrians further.

I chose bold, contrasting colors for painting these. The Assyrians were definitely going for the "shock and awe" effect, I think.

"It is not the horse that draws the chariot, but the oats" - Assyrian proverb.

"Gossip needs no chariot" - Assyrian proverb.

"I am powerful, I am omnipotent, I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal!"
—One of King Esarhaddon of Assyria's inscriptions, 7th century BC

"The robes of the Assyrians were generally ample and flowing, but differed in form from those of the Egyptians and the Persians. They consisted of tunics or robes varying in length, in mantles of diverse shapes, of long-fringed scarf's, and of embroidered girdles. Ornaments were scattered with profusion over these dresses, some of which appear to have been emblematic of certain dignities or employments."

"The caparison of their horses is most gorgeous; every strap of their head and body-housings is enriched; to the chariots horses is usually seen attached, apparently either to the extremity of the pole or to the trappings of the neck, and to the front of the chariot itself, a long fish-shaped piece of drapery fringed and embroidered".
- both the above quotes from: Joseph Bonomi, "Nineveh And Its Palaces" 2nd Ed. (London: Ingram, Cooke & Co, 1853) pp 431, 437

"Great conquerors appear in the dim light of that distant time and pass, Tushratta, King of Mitanni, who captured Nineveh, Tiglath Pileser I of Assyria who conquered Babylon. At last the Assyrians became the greatest military power of the time. Tiglath Pileser III conquered Babylon in 745 B.C. and founded what historians call the New Assyrian Empire. Iron had also come now into civilization out of the north; the Hittites, the precursors of the Armenians, had it first and communicated its use to the Assyrians, and an Assyrian usurper, Sargon II, armed his troops with it. Assyria became the first power to expound the doctrine of blood and iron. Sargon’s son Sennacherib led an army to the borders of Egypt, and was defeated not by military strength but by the plague. Sennacherib’s grandson Assurbanipal (who is also known in history by his Greek name of Sardanapalus) did actually conquer Egypt in 670 B.C. "
- from A Short History of the World, Chapter XVIII. Egypt, Babylon and Assyria,1922. 
Author: H.G. Wells (1866–1946).


  1. Great collection of chariots! Who doesn't like a chariot army, indeed?

    Really enjoy seeing your collections.

  2. Nice post; I haven't read ancient history in a long, long time. That four man chariot is really something. It's fun to see miniatures from our youth.

    1. It is quite an impressive vehicle, isn't it? I wouldn't want one thundering down upon me, that's for sure!

    2. Wargames LLC has what's left of their Essex's at 62% off. Not much, but just in case

  3. I am just finishing up some British LC I got when their sale started (and my Essex Cosacks were purchased then as well) . I looked it over when they announced the further reduction - not surprisingly, pretty picked over and nothing I could really use. Thanks for the heads up anyway!

  4. Great looking chariots - I remember having quite a few of the Airfix Roman chariots as a kid. All ancient armies have to have chariots and elephants in my opinion...

  5. Thanks - I'd agree, need Chariots or Ponderous Pachyderms! The only army I can think of off hand that had both were the Mauryan Indians.. and I have them, too!

  6. Nice chariot collection! ;-)

    I've discovered the Chariot era last year and it really is a fun period to study and to paint.

  7. Thanks! I enjoyed your chariots as well. It is a fascinating era to study.