Llama chariots

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Llama chariots

Postby Zor » 2016-11-20 01:34am

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If the Incas or some other ancient peruvian civilizations managed to invent or otherwise aquire wheel technology could this work?

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Re: Llama chariots

Postby DesertFly » 2016-11-20 02:16am

It seems like the terrain (jungle and mountainous) would be prohibitive for such devices.

Am I missing something?
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-11-20 03:12am

Llamas aren't very strong or fast, so I'm not sure a chariot like this would help. Also, the Inca empire was extremely mountainous, so the chariots would routinely run into terrain they couldn't navigate.

Remember that Inca roads had staircases, because that was the only practical way to build roads over that terrain without massive switchbacking and modern civil engineering equipment with explosives.

Good luck getting a chariot or a wagon up a flight of stairs.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Zixinus » 2016-11-20 06:04am

How willful are Llamas? I read that they can be quite so. The key requisite for such creatures to be used in battle is willing to be led into a massive, violent mess of madly shouting people and blood. If you loose control of the llamas under these circumstances, they probably won't work.

but I did hear that camels have been used as battle animals and the llama is related.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Broomstick » 2016-11-20 03:56pm

The Inca knew of the wheel, but they used them for toys, not transportation. They certainly knew how to construct roads and did so. Some of which are still around today.

The problem is, as noted, that their territory was quite mountainous, which is not terrain suited to wheeled carts. In those situations pack animals are more useful, and indeed llamas have been used for that purpose.

If the Inca has lived on broad, flat plains then they might have come up with llama chariots, but that's not where they lived so they didn't.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-20 04:33pm

Several problems beside the lack of flat ground.

Most importantly lama is only a 300-400lb animal, while even a very small modern horse, probably more directly comparable to typical horses three thousand years ago, is several times that mass. Two or three lama would not be able to pull a chariot in battle, and larger numbers of animals would quickly become unmanageable. This is probably a big factor in why the Inca showed so little development of the wheel as well. Primitive carts were very heavy in terms of dead weight. In fact we know in Africa-Asia that pack animals were competitive or even superior to carts many centuries after the latter invention, as long as the cargo was not too bulky. This lasted through the Roman Empire.

The other big problem is that lama's don't have hoofed feet. That means you hook several of them together and make them gallop around and they'll be hurt very easily. Camels always had this problem too, which is why even in open deserts they did not dominate over horses for cavalry use. This only worsens the problem of a chariot being highly vulnerable to obstructions and unfavorable ground.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-11-20 05:37pm

With all of the above being said, you do worse then look at Celtic pony chariots. Very light and fast, one man standing and chucking drive-by spears. Not a tank unit


Not the video I was looking for but a start. There's a few with experimental archaeologists taking them out on the beach

intent://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ObAfc ... .co.uk;end
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Broomstick » 2016-11-20 07:16pm

Shetland ponies weigh only around 550 pounds yet can carry a full grown adult human and were used in mines to haul ore carts. So you could potentially have chariots drawn by animals that light.

However, Shetlands are draft animals - bred for labor. They are, pound for pound, the strongest breed of horse or pony. So you can use an animal in that size range to perform heavy labor... if the animal is bred for it.

There are llamas bred for draft purposes. People have used llamas to pull carts:

Image
But this is a lightweight cart made with modern techniques and materials. Ancient carts and chariots tended to be much heavier in weight and probably needed more power to pull.

So, in theory, the Incas could have used llamas to pull wheeled carts... but maybe it just never occurred to them to do so. In the old world you have three continents of people in contact with each other, an idea like a wheeled cart could spread easily and far. The peoples of the "new world" all developed agriculture, city architecture, systematized mathematics, and writing later than the "old world" - maybe it was just that they hadn't invented wheeled vehicles yet and would have eventually done so given more time.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-20 08:15pm

An iron strapped wheel, as shown on that Celtic model is pretty important for getting your weight down, as well as general durability. Problem is the Inca only barely had iron working at all, and it's been found nowhere else in the Americas past very crude creations. Stuff like literal melted pool of iron blades IIRC, has been found elsewhere.

The Americas probably had 50-100 million people in 1492 before plagues massively wiped them out, including those unknown but now confirmed Amazon basin civilizations, no doubt given enough time they would have developed all kinds of new technology. But that seriously might have taken another 2000+ years to catch up to where Europe was in 1492.

The reason they lagged behind Europe was probably just because American population densities were very low until relatively late in history. Even the original wanderers who entered North America first may have lagged behind the near east, simply because they were already living in the remote ass corner of Siberia!

As far as the Chariot goes, just pulling it isn't enough, to be useful it the animals need to be able to move it around at a high speed and decent turning rate for a large portion of a battle. The tactical role of chariots was largely harassing after all.

Honestly I struggle to see the tactical point of one man chariots, but they probably had a lot of social meaning.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Broomstick » 2016-11-20 08:53pm

The Americans also had agricultural issues.

For example, Eurasia/Africa has several grains: wheat, barley, rye, millet, oats, sorghum, buckwheat, teff... and those are just the ones I recall off the top of my head. The Americas had maize and quinoa - and quinoa isn't even a grain (although it's used like one). Quinoa had a very limited range (much like the African teff). Maize isn't as nutritious as most Eurasian/African grains with a lower protein content. Which might not have been a problem if the Americas had also had as many species of domestic livestock as the old world, but they didn't. The old world had cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, dogs, camels (a bit late in history), yaks, chickens, ducks, geese... The Americas had dogs (the only universal) and llamas/alpacas. That was it. This might have a been a factor in cannibalism cropping up as a social custom from time to time in the Americas (a fact often ignored in history education). The big civilizations of the old world could raise their own meat using a variety of different animals and that helped ensure their people got adequate protein. In the Americans, the big civilizations in the northern hemisphere had dogs. That was it. All other animal protein had to be hunted in the wild which is nowhere near as efficient as animal husbandry. In South America there were dogs and llamas/alpacas. No wonder the potato in all its forms was so damn important to the Inca, hands down it was a hell of a lot better for feeding people than most of what they had. These agricultural issues were one factor in why the populations of the Americas were much less overall than in the old world.

While it clearly was possible to build sophisticated civilizations in the Americas their agriculture was not as productive as in the old world. That meant more people involved in the basics of keeping civilization fed and fewer in the leisure/artisan classes. That may well mean slower progress and later progress.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-11-21 03:37am

Sea Skimmer wrote:As far as the Chariot goes, just pulling it isn't enough, to be useful it the animals need to be able to move it around at a high speed and decent turning rate for a large portion of a battle. The tactical role of chariots was largely harassing after all.

Honestly I struggle to see the tactical point of one man chariots, but they probably had a lot of social meaning.


I think the one man chariots fulfilled the same role. If the Celts had better horses they'd have built two man ones. But need for speed above all else.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-11-21 12:53pm

Socially, chariots were a great way for nobility to show off their martial prowess without actually being in the line of battle. They put the rider on display and allowed them to look fancy. Also allowed them to sweep up any stragglers or harass a retreating army. In Egypt and the Middle East, they were often used for hunting as well, especially against dangerous animals like lions-- zoom by, toss off a few arrows or javelins, stay a safe distance away from the critters. Run down antelope, that kind of thing.

Not much use for that kind of thing in the Americas where they had less large scale pitched battles, more small tribal feuds back and forth.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Broomstick » 2016-11-21 06:45pm

Well, the Aztecs weren't into "tribal feuds", but they weren't interested so much in killing people in battle as taking prisoners to be sacrificed to their gods later. Not sure chariots would have been really good that that particular application.
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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Zor » 2016-11-21 07:20pm

Broomstick wrote:Well, the Aztecs weren't into "tribal feuds", but they weren't interested so much in killing people in battle as taking prisoners to be sacrificed to their gods later. Not sure chariots would have been really good that that particular application.

Aztecs lived in Southern Mexico, the Incas lived in Peru. They are very distinct civilizations and the Aztecs did not have llamas.

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Re: Llama chariots

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-21 08:15pm

Reasonable to suppose they have gotten them by trade though, boat traffic did exist to get around the jungles of Panama. Guess you'd need that llama well shorn to avoid overheating. We know now Polynesians were reaching the coast too, and returning west.

Something to think about though. The Aztec were also primarily a tributary empire that only controlled a moderate area directly, which is why the Spanish could so easily gather up an army to crush them with. The Inca were more centralized, though also a very new empire, about 1 century old IIRC, and also easily broken in hindsight. The reality is both may well have only been setting themselves up for protracted city based warfare even had the Spanish not appeared,as soon as some crisis or another appeared which it would and did in all Empires. We don't have any specific reason to think they would have proved highly stable or long lasting, all the more so since we now know the Amazon basin had alternative centers of power. The Inca were not alone, though they'd done a good job gobbling people up.

Some of the lesser central America powers like Tzintzuntzan were just as if not more advanced then the Aztecs too, and successfully holding off Aztec military power. They might well have given rise to entirely new dynamics given even another century unhindered. The problem is thanks to plague even when the Spanish did see any of these places they were in near term decline, and the Amazon basin and Mississippian cultures were scattered by disease such that they never recovered. Which led to interesting things like very elaborate monarchies in some Amazon tribes, which its now pretty clear are remains of that era.
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