Roman chariot toy gives scientists new insights into chariot racing
Professor Bela Sandor, a lecturer in engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, undertook to study a Roman toy discovered at the bottom of the Tiber in the 1790s. Scientists suspect that the toy was made for a true chariot racing enthusiast around 2,000 years ago.
The toy is made of bronze and shows a chariot pulled by horses. However, the driver and one of the draft animals are missing. Based on the assessment of the dimensions of the model, the researcher determined how big the real chariot was in ancient times. Moreover, Bela Sandor and Judith Swaddling from the British Museum noticed that the wheels of the toy chariot did not match. In the Roman world, a real chariot wheel was about 60 cm in diameter and was usually made of wood, animal hide glue, and strips of leather with which it was attached to a crossbeam.
The band of iron visible on the outside of the toy’s right wheel proves that it may have been intended to strengthen and stabilize the chariot while constantly cornering to the left.