Elke Kaiser, "Wurde das Rad zweimal erfunden? Zu den frühen Wagen in der eurasischen Steppe", in: Praehistorische Zeitschrift, 85.2 (2011), 137–157


Graves from the Third Millennium BC uncovered in the Northern Black Sea region provide numerous examples of wagons with massive disc wheels. While corresponding finds in the complexes of the Yamnaja Culture (first half of the Third Millennium BC) have been interpreted primarily as four-wheel heavy vehicles, in recent decades there has been an attempt to reconstruct the two-wheel vehicle finds of the later Catacomb Grave Culture (second half of Third Millennium BC) as prototypes of chariots. Several arguments are provided against the idea that these vehicles were the forerunners of the two-wheel lightweight chariots in the Southern Urals foreland, which are evidenced in the graves of the prevalent Sintashta Culture beginning in 2040 BC. One main argument is the fact that no finds have been discovered between the two territories, areas, which lie 1,500 kilometres apart, that might have lent plausibility to the idea of mutual contact, which could in turn have led to the development of chariots to the east of the Urals based on the older ‚prototypes” in the Northern Black Sea region as well as in the Caucasus foreland. In addition, there is considerable doubt that the two-wheel vehicles of the Catacomb Grave Culture can indeed be considered as a kind of prototype of the chariot. The harness parts necessary for their meaningful use with horses, for example, is first evidenced in the wagons of the Sintashta Culture. In addition to these, bony discoid cheek-pieces were deposited in the graves, which spread from the settlement area of this culture into the steppe region to the west of the Urals during the first half of the Second Millennium BC.

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