Featured So... Why Quadrigas?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by TypeCoin971793, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Well-Known Member

    I am currently engrossed in a book (The Genius of China, by Robert Temple) detailing all of the inventions that China had created, which were eventually adopted by Europeans without giving due credit to the Chinese. (It's a big book, so I look forward to everything else it has to offer.) One of these inventions was an effective horse harness. While I was reading the chapter, I suddenly realized why so many horses are seen pulling chariots on ancient European coins. Let me explain below:

    In Europe, the only horse harness was a throat-and-girth harness. Basically, it wrapped around the horse's throat and belly to give a secure attachment. The disadvantage to this arrangement was that the horse gets severely choked and thus becomes quite inefficient. The author claims this is the reason why the Roman Empire had to import all of their grain from egypt; without an effective method to transporting Italian grain by land, it proved to be better to just import the grain by sea.

    IMG_1712.JPG

    A Roman Republic denarius clearly showing this kind of harness.

    IMG_1711.JPG

    In contrast, in 4th-century China, the trace harness was invented which transferred the load to the horse's sternum and collarbone instead of the neck. The Avars invaded Hungary in 568 AD, and they brought this harness, along with the stirrup, to Europe from China. It became commonplace in Europe by the 8th Century AD.

    IMG_1713.JPG

    A Han Dynasty depiction of the trace harness:

    IMG_1715.JPG

    Then by the 1st Century BC, the Chinese invent the collar harness, which is still in use today. This type of harness is advantageous as it creates an artificial "hump" above the horse's shoulders (like that of an ox) where a yoke can be attached. The load also gets tranferred to the horse's skeletal system, but it is slightly more effective than the trace harness.

    IMG_1714.JPG

    So, just how much of an effect does the type of harness have? Modern experiments showed that a pair of horses could carry a half-ton load using the throat-and-girth harness. However, the other two harnesses allowed a single horse to carry a 1.5-ton load; a six-fold increase! No wonder why so many horses were needed to pull the chariots. Gotta love Ancient Chinese ingenuity.

    Post your horses, chariots, carts, etc. This might turn out to be an interesting thread.
     
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  3. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Well-Known Member

    This Philip II stater shows the harness more clearly:

    IMG_1716.JPG
     
  4. Youngcoin

    Youngcoin Well-Known Member

    Wow nice write up very interesting I had no idea!


    Thanks,
    Jacob
     
    TypeCoin971793 likes this.
  5. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    M Cipius MF.jpg

    It's not all quadrigas. I've seen bigas and trigas on ancient Roman coins too. My M. Cipius denarius has a biga.
     
  6. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Well-Known Member

    I know... Quadrigas were the first thing to come to mind.
     
  7. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark Date Nolite Rogare

    The reason Rome transported so much grain from Egypt was because Egypt had rich lands along the Nile and a surplus of grain, that is why it is referred to as the breadbasket of the Empire.
     
  8. Hispanicus

    Hispanicus Stand Fast! Supporter

    TypeCoin,
    My compliments on an outstanding analysis that provides significant insight on RR coin iconography

    Spoken like a true Engineer.

    Love it!
     
  9. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    QUADRIGA:
    upload_2017-11-5_20-39-38.png
    RR Anon Quadrigatus AR Drachm 216-214 BCE Janus ROMA Jupiter Victory Quadriga LEFT Cr 29-4 Sear 35 Scarce

    TRIGA:
    RR Naevius Balbus 79 BCE AR Den Venus SC TRIGA Sulla S 309 Cr 382-1.jpg
    RR Naevius Balbus 79 BCE AR Den Venus SC TRIGA Sulla Sear 309 Cr 382-1

    BIGA:
    RR AR Denarius 149 BCE Pinarius  Natta Roma X  - Victory Biga whip NATTA ROMA Cr 208-1 Syd 390.jpg
    RR AR Denarius 149 BCE Pinarius Natta Roma X - Victory Biga whip NATTA ROMA Cr 208-1 Syd 390

    Carpentum-
    upload_2017-11-5_20-55-3.png
    RI Julia Flavia Titi Diva 90-91 CE d-Titus concubine-uncleDomitian AE Sestert 33mm 20.4g - Carpentum mules SPQR - SC rare


    HORSES:
    Galloping-

    Carthage Zeugitania 400-350 BCE AE 15mm 3.39g Head of Tanit left Horse galloping r SNG Cop 97.JPG
    Carthage Zeugitania 400-350 BCE AE 15mm 3.39g Head of Tanit left Horse galloping r SNG Cop 97

    Leaping-
    upload_2017-11-5_20-46-24.png
    Sicily Akragas Punic occup 213-210 BC AR Half Shekel 19 mm 2.9g Male head r Triptolemos wreath grain -Horse leaping r Punic Ḥ SNG COP 378

    Prancing-
    RR Anon 234-231 BCE AR Didrachm Apollo-Horse prancing Crawford 26-1 Sear 28.JPG
    RR Anon 234-231 BCE AR Didrachm Apollo-Horse prancing Crawford 26-1 Sear 28

    Leg Raised-
    upload_2017-11-5_20-47-30.png
    Carthage Third Punic War Serrate Double Shekel 149-146 BCE 12.8g 26mm Wreathd Tanit-Horse pellet raised leg SNG COP 404

    Grazing-
    RI Valerian I 253-260 CE AE 20mm Alexandria Troas mint Horse Grazing.jpg
    RI Valerian I 253-260 CE AE 20mm Alexandria Troas mint Horse Grazing

    Standing-
    upload_2017-11-5_20-53-36.png
    Carthage Zeugitana 310-270 BCE EL Dekadrachm-Stater 18.5mm 7.27g Tanit Horse 3 pellets in ex MAA 12 SNG COP 136
     
  10. alde

    alde Always Learning Supporter

    Interesting stuff. You will also not see a stirrup on a horse on a Roman coin. Well, somewhere in my memory I remember Doug Smith may have shown one on his page on a fallen horseman AE.
     
  11. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Well-Known Member

    The stirrup was another Chinese invention not introduced to Europe until the 6th Century AD.
     
    LaCointessa and alde like this.
  12. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Great book... I chuckle when I read of our Western Accomplishments, and completely ignore Eastern Accomplishments... myopic.

    Great book... was recommended by a good friend of mine that I did a lot of business with me in China.
    Genius of China book pic.jpg
     
  13. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES!

    Interesting indeed @TypeCoin971793 ! Reminds me of why we quickly got rid of our dog collar and switch the a harness, the poor guy kept choking himself trying to get his slow human dad to walk faster!

    Here's a triga, can't really see the harness well.

    100_5588.JPG
     
  14. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago Supporter

    Terrific thread!!!

    After scoring single examples with a biga thru quadriga's, I basically pulled away and focused on variations of devices....so here's a 'Triumphal Chariot:


    Roman Republic. L. Rubrius Dossenus, moneyer. AR Denarius minted at Rome, 87 BC. Laureate head right of Jupiter; to left, scepter. Reverse: Empty triumphal chariot right, surmounted by small figure of Victory. Sear 258; Rubria 1; Cr. 348/1; Syd. 705.
    Rubricius denarius,RR triumphal chariot.jpg
     
  15. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Thank you for giving me a reason to love my Hieron I tet's headless-horse obverse: a clear harness!
    Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 9.45.45 AM.png

    My two clearest harnesses on RRs are on a denarius of T. Manlius Mancinus, Ap. Claudius Pulcher, & Q. Urbinius (110 BC), and a Sulla denarius (82 BC):
    Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 9.39.12 AM.png

    Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 9.31.59 AM.png

    I think the stirrup thing is debatable, at least timing-wise. The earliest stirrups were simple leather loops, and the later, more effective type incorporates a hard bar under the instep. I (vaguely) recall that it's pretty uncertain when these were transmitted west. Also, they probably originated on the steppes rather than in China proper. Innovations in horse-drawn wheeled vehicles may have originated on the steppes also.
     
  16. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  17. ro1974

    ro1974 Well-Known Member

    _DSC5787.JPG _DSC5788.JPG
    Germanicus/ great coins all
     
  18. lrbguy

    lrbguy Well-Known Member

    Randy, were you of the opinion that your examples show a clear stirrup, or that they do NOT?
     
    TJC likes this.
  19. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you? Supporter

    Kudos to CoinType for the interesting post on a subject I knew nothing about and never considered. Now I will pay attention to harnesses. Here are a few from my collection that show the harness nicely.


    C Vibius Cf Pansa 342-4b NAC 2017.jpg L Postumius Albinus 252-1 NAC 2015.jpg L Procilius AR Denarius ROMA ex NY Sale XXIII 2010.jpg Spurius Afranius Denarius CNG 2013.jpg
     
  20. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Mikey Zee and Carthago like this.
  21. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Well-Known Member

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