Chariot burial

Chariot burials are tombs in which the deceased was buried together with their chariot, usually including their horses and other possessions. An instance of a person being buried with their horse (without the chariot) is called horse burial.

Sepulture double C00077
Drawing of the La Gorge-Meillet burial; the chariot-driver was interred above his master.
Tombe à char Châlons 1901
Another French burial


Novokorsunskaya kurgan in the Kuban region of Russia contains a wagon grave of the Maykop culture (which also had horses). The two solid wooden wheels from this kurgan have been dated to the second half of the fourth millennium. Soon thereafter the number of such burials in this Northern Caucasus region multiplied.[1][2]

The earliest true chariots known are from around 2,000 BC, in burials of the Sintashta-Petrovka culture in modern Russia in a cluster along the upper Tobol river, southeast of Magnitogorsk. They contained spoke-wheeled chariots drawn by teams of two horses. The culture is at least partially derived from the earlier Yamna culture, where some wagon-burials are found, and is interpreted by certain scholars to have Indo-Iranian features. The Krivoye Ozero chariot grave contained a horse skull, three pots, two bridle cheek pieces, and points of spears and arrows.[3]

Later chariot burials are found in China. The most noted of these was discovered in 1933 at Hougang, Anyang in central China's Henan Province, dating from the rule of King Wu Ding of the Yin Dynasty (c. 1,200 BC). A Western Zhou (9th century BC) chariot burial was unearthed at Zhangjiapo, Chang'an in 1955.[4]

In Europe, chariot burials are known from Iron Age (8th century BC) Salamis, Cyprus, Tomba Regolini Galassi in Etruria (7th century BC), Italy, and from Beilngries (7th century BC), the Hallstatt C culture in Germany. Chariot burial was an Iron Age Celtic custom; while the wooden chariot has decayed, the horse harness, usually in bronze, survives well, and enough is left of the iron wheel covers and other iron parts to enable well-informed reconstructions. Only the richest were buried in this way, and there are often many other grave-goods. The 4th-century Waldalgesheim chariot burial is one of the best known. A tomb from the 4th century BC was discovered in La Gorge-Meillet, Marne in France;[5] another (450-300) at Somme-Bionne.

In addition to the Etruscan tomb in Italy, there are two chariot burials at Sesto Calende, south of Lake Maggiore, of the Golasecca culture dating to the 7th and 6th century BC accompanied by weapons, ornaments and a large situla [6] while an earlier burial of the same culture, at Ca' Morta - Como (c. 700 BC), included a four-wheeled wagon in the tomb.

In England, chariot burials are characteristic of, and almost confined to, the Iron Age Arras culture associated with the Parisii tribe. Finds of such burials are rare, and the persons interred were presumably chieftains or other wealthy notables. The Wetwang Slack chariot burial of c. 300 BC is unusual in that a woman was interred with the chariot.[7] In 2018 another chariot burial of a man was unearthed in Pocklington, with two horses buried upright with it.[8] Some 21 British sites are known, spanning approximately four centuries, virtually all in the East Riding of Yorkshire.[9] The Ferrybridge and Newbridge (near Edinburgh) chariots are unusual in Britain as they are the only ones to be buried intact.[10] The burial custom seems to have disappeared after the Roman occupation of Britain.

Three Bronze-age chariot burials were excavated from Sinauli, Uttar Pradesh state of India in 2018. The burial goods also included copper swords and copper helmets.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Christoph Baumer, The History of Central Asia: The Age of the Steppe Warriors. I.B.Tauris, 2012 ISBN 1780760604 p90
  2. ^ Chris Fowler, Jan Harding, Daniela Hofmann, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. OUP Oxford, 2015 ISBN 0191666882 p113
  3. ^ David S. Anthony, The Horse, The Wheel and Language: How bronze age riders from the Eurasian steppes shaped the modern world (2007), pp. 397-405.
  4. ^ "Excavation of Zhou Dynasty Chariot Tombs Reveals More About Ancient Chinese Society". People’s Daily Online. March 16, 2002. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  5. ^ Le Musée des Antiquités nationales: Les Âges du fer: La tombe à char de « La Gorge-Meillet » Archived January 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Princely Tombs of Sesto Calende. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-08-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ British Museum: The Wetwang Chariot Burial
  8. ^ Iron Age chariot burial found in East Yorkshire with horses leaping out of the grave
  9. ^ Yorkshire History: Iron Age Chariot Burials
  10. ^ British Archaeology 76, May 2004
  11. ^ Subramanian, T. S. "Royal burial in Sanauli" Frontline 28 Sept. 2018 [1]

External links

Arras culture

The Arras culture is an archaeological culture of the Middle Iron Age in East Yorkshire, England. It takes its name from the cemetery site of Arras, at Arras Farm, (53.86°N 0.59°W / 53.86; -0.59) near Market Weighton, which was discovered in the 19th century. The site spans three fields, bisected by the main east-west road between Market Weighton and Beverley, and is arable farmland; little to no remains are visible above ground. The extent of the Arras culture is loosely associated with the Parisi tribe of pre-Roman Britain.

The culture is defined by its burial practices, which are uncommon outside East Yorkshire, but are found in continental Europe, and show some similarities with those of the La Tène culture. The inhumations include chariot burials, or burials in square enclosures, or both; in contrast to continental inhumations the cemeteries were crowded, not extended, and the chariots typically disassembled. The burials have been dated from the latter part of the 1st millennium BC to the Roman conquest (about 70 AD). The burial goods and chariot designs were primarily British in style, not continental. Many of the archaeological finds are in the Yorkshire Museum and the British Museum.

Danes Graves

Danes Graves is an archaeological site in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It forms part of the Arras Culture of inhumation and chariot burial prevalent in the region during the British Iron Age. It is a prehistoric cemetery site situated in Danesdale - a dry river valley with gravel and chalk deposits. The site is north of Driffield near the village of Kilham.

Death messenger

Death messengers, in former times, were those who were dispatched to spread the news that an inhabitant of their city or village had died. They were to wear unadorned black and go door to door with the message, "You are asked to attend the funeral of the departed __________ at (time, date, and place)." This was all they were allowed to say, and were to move on to the next house immediately after uttering the announcement. This tradition persisted in some areas to as late as the mid-19th century.

Dignified death

Dignified death is a somewhat elusive concept often related to suicide. One factor that has been cited as a core component of dignified death is maintaining a sense of control. Another view is that a truly dignified death is an extension of a dignified life. There is some concern that assisted suicide does not guarantee a dignified death, since some patients may experience complications such as nausea and vomiting. There is some concern that age discrimination denies the elderly a dignified death.

Grave field

A grave field is a prehistoric cemetery, typically of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe.

Grave fields are distinguished from necropoleis by the former's lack of above-ground structures, buildings, or grave markers.

Horse burial

Horse burial is the practice of burying a horse as part of the ritual of human burial, and is found among many Indo-European peoples and others, including Chinese and Turkic peoples. The act indicates the high value placed on horses in the particular cultures and provides evidence of the migration of peoples with a horse culture. Human burials that contain other livestock are rare; in Britain, for example, 31 horse burials have been discovered but only one cow burial, unique in Europe. This process of horse burial is part of a wider tradition of horse sacrifice. An associated ritual is that of chariot burial, in which an entire chariot, with or without a horse, is buried with a dead person.

La Tène culture

The La Tène culture (; French pronunciation: ​[la tɛn]) was a European Iron Age culture.

It developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from about 450 BCE to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BCE), succeeding the early Iron Age Hallstatt culture without any definite cultural break, under the impetus of considerable Mediterranean influence from the Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul, the Etruscans, and Golasecca culture.Its territorial extent corresponded to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Southern Germany, the Czech Republic, parts of Northern Italy, Slovenia and Hungary, as well as adjacent parts of the Netherlands, Slovakia, Croatia, Transylvania (western Romania), and Transcarpathia (western Ukraine).

The Celtiberians of western Iberia shared many aspects of the culture, though not generally the artistic style. To the north extended the contemporary Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe, including the Jastorf culture of Northern Germany.

Centered on ancient Gaul, the culture became very widespread, and encompasses a wide variety of local differences. It is often distinguished from earlier and neighbouring cultures mainly by the La Tène style of Celtic art, characterized by curving "swirly" decoration, especially of metalwork.It is named after the type site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where thousands of objects had been deposited in the lake, as was discovered after the water level dropped in 1857. La Tène is the type site and the term archaeologists use for the later period of the culture and art of the ancient Celts, a term that is firmly entrenched in the popular understanding, but presents numerous problems for historians and archaeologists.

Lazarus sign

The Lazarus sign or Lazarus reflex is a reflex movement in brain-dead or brainstem failure patients, which causes them to briefly raise their arms and drop them crossed on their chests (in a position similar to some Egyptian mummies). The phenomenon is named after the Biblical figure Lazarus of Bethany, whom Jesus raised from the dead in the Gospel of John.


Megadeath (or megacorpse) is one million human deaths, usually caused by a nuclear explosion. The term was used by scientists and thinkers who strategized likely outcomes of all-out nuclear warfare.

Newbridge chariot

The remains of an Iron Age chariot burial were found near the Bronze Age burial mound at Huly Hill, Newbridge in Scotland, 14 km west of Edinburgh city centre, in advance of development at the Edinburgh Interchange. The chariot was the first of its kind to be found in Scotland and shows Iron Age Scotland in direct contact with the European Continent. The Newbridge chariot was buried intact, a method consistent with the burial practices of Continental Europe rather than Yorkshire.

Pallor mortis

Pallor mortis (Latin: pallor "paleness", mortis "of death"), the first stage of death, is an after-death paleness that occurs in those with light/white skin.

Pocklington Iron Age burial ground

The Pocklington Iron Age burial ground is a prehistoric cemetery discovered in 2014 on the outskirts of Pocklington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. Excavations carried out on an ongoing basis since then, have uncovered more than 160 skeletons and more than 70 square barrows thought to date to the Middle Iron Age that are attributed to the Arras culture, an ancient British culture of East Yorkshire. A variety of grave goods have been found along with the human remains, including weapons, beads, pots, and a rare chariot burial.

Ship burial

A ship burial or boat grave is a burial in which a ship or boat is used either as a container for the dead and the grave goods, or as a part of the grave goods itself. If the ship is very small, it is called a boat grave. This style of burial was used among the Germanic peoples, particularly by Viking Age Norsemen. According to the Boxer Codex, ship burials were also practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.

A unique eyewitness account of a 10th-century ship burial among the Volga Vikings is given by Arab traveller Ibn Fadlan.


Somme-Bionne is a commune in the Marne department in north-eastern France. An important Iron Age chariot burial of 450-300 BC was found in the vicinity of the village in the nineteenth century. The finds from the La Tène period grave came into the possession of the French collector Léon Morel, who sold it, along with his entire antiquities collection from the Champagne region of France, to the British Museum in 1901.


Subutun or Sufutun (Chinese: 蘇埠屯) is the largest known Shang dynasty archaeological site outside Anyang, located in Qingzhou City (formerly Yidu County), Shandong.

Occasional finds by Yidu farmers were reported in 1931; in 1965−66 a chariot burial and four tombs have been excavated, followed by six more tombs in 1986. Though the tombs were robbed, and site itself damaged by road construction, it still yielded a large amount of important finds. Some of the artifacts bear an emblem of Ya Chou, possibly a clan name.

Archaeological evidence allows conclusion that the site is directly related to the Shang capital Yin (Yinxu), situated 400 km (250 mi) to the west. It is a colony rather than the local culture development.


Waldalgesheim is an Ortsgemeinde – a municipality belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde, a kind of collective municipality – in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is best known as the site of the Iron Age Waldalgesheim chariot burial.

The winegrowing centre belongs to the Verbandsgemeinde of Rhein-Nahe, whose seat is in Bingen am Rhein, although that town is not within its bounds. Since 2003, Waldalgesheim has been part of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Waldalgesheim chariot burial

The Waldalgesheim chariot burial (German: Waldalgesheimer Fürstengrab) was a 4th-century BC Celtic princely chariot burial site in Waldalgesheim, Germany, discovered in 1869.

It has given its name to the "Waldalgesheim Style" of artifacts of the La Tène culture, a more fluid and confident style of decoration than early Celtic art, with Greek and Etruscan influences. The objects from the burial site were dug up by the farmer who found them on his land. The site was not investigated by archaeologists, and has recently been covered by a housing development.


Wetwang is a Yorkshire Wolds village and civil parish in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It is situated 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Driffield on the A166 road.

According to the 2011 UK census, Wetwang parish had a population of 761, an increase on the 2001 UK census figure of 672.

St Nicholas' Church is of Norman origin and was restored between 1845–1902. In 1966, the church was designated a Grade II* listed building and is now recorded in the National Heritage List for England, maintained by Historic England. It is on the Sykes Churches Trail devised by the East Yorkshire Churches Group.The village is known for its Iron Age chariot burial cemetery at Wetwang Slack, and was previously known for its black swans after which the village pub, the Black Swan, is named.The village is recorded in the Domesday Book as Wetuuangha. There are two interpretations of the name, one from the Old Norse vaett-vangr, 'field for the trial of a legal action'. Another theory is that it was the "Wet Field" compared to the nearby dry field at Driffield. It has been noted on lists of unusual place names.It has been hypothesised that the unlocated Romano-British town of Delgovicia is located at Wetwang.

Wetwang Slack

Wetwang Slack is an Iron Age archaeological site containing remains of the Arras culture and chariot burial tradition of East Yorkshire.

The site is in a dry valley on the north side of the village of Wetwang. The archaeological remains consist of three chariot burial inhumations, each containing skeletal remains above the remains of a dismantled cart or chariot. All the skeletal remains from the three inhumations were aligned on a north-south axis, with the head pointing north. Many of the finds excavated from the site are now preserved in the British Museum.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.