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Attelages antiques libyens

Jean Spruytte

Résumé en anglais

Texte intégral

1Pictures of horses harnessed to chariots in Saharan rock art have been among the subjects most commented upon in African archaeological research for decades.

2Paintings discovered recently show chariots with wheels of a very particular type, which bear a striking resemblance to an ancient wheel brought back from Africa around 1843 by an English traveler and now in the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Comparison of this object with the paintings has made it possible to reconstruct and carry out experiments with a type of harness that has disappeared, but that is frequent in the Saharan rock painting scenes.

3This experimental research, carried out by an expert in harness technique, is published here with ample photographic documentation to facilitate understanding of the evidence. This work presents a detailed technical analysis of the type of vehicule involved and a thorough demonstration of its reconstruction and trials at all paces from walk to gallop.

4The successive phases of this experimental research enable us to provide a far more concrete interpretation of these ancient harness methods as well as a considerably better understanding of their actual capacities. In harnessing techniques, a method is either materially possible or it is not, and an experimental trial is the only way to provide sound solutions to such material problems.

5This study indicates knowledge in handling horses that was far more elaborate than formerly supposed for the period concerned and allows us to situate the area involved in a fairly precise historical context. The investigation also confirms that the harness involved was light, with unshoed horses, the performance of which can in no circumstances be compared with that of modern harness techniques.

© Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 1996

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