Bronze Age Chariots Roll Back Time

Article excerpt

While conducting research in several former Soviet republics last year, David W. Anthony and Dorcas R. Brown of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., met a Russian archaeologist who told them about some remarkable finds. His research team and several others had uncovered the remains of chariots placed in graves from a culture that flourished in the steppes along the Russia-Kazakhstan border about 4,000 years ago.

New radiocarbon dates for bone samples taken from horse skulls in one of these graves -at an excavation directed by that same scientist, Nikolai B. Vinogradov of the Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical Institute - range between 2200 B.C. and 1800 B.C., making the associated chariots the oldest such vehicles preserved anywhere, Anthony reports.

This evidence does not, however, resolve a long-standing scholarly dispute about whether chariots first emerged in the Eurasian steppes or in the Near East, Anthony notes. Clay impressions of chariots found at a Turkish site date to as early as 1950 B. …