The History of the Horse Drawn Carriage

Updated July 19, 2017

The horse-drawn carriage has long been a widely used means of transporting people and goods. The word "carriage" itself comes from the French "cariage," which means to carry by vehicle, and there is archaeological evidence of the horse-drawn chariot dating back to the fourth Millennium BCE.

The Carriage in Mesopotamia

One of the earliest confirmed adoptions of an animal-drawn carriage is 3000BC in Mesopotamia. Though the first of these vehicles are thought to have been pulled by asses or oxen, there have been artistic portrayals of Mesopotamian horse-drawn chariots that date to between 2600 and 2400 BCE.

The Carriage in Ancient Greece and Rome

Racing in horse-drawn chariots was introduced as an ancient Olympic sport in 680 BCE, and these vehicles were sometimes used for in-town transportation throughout the ancient Greek era. Because of bumpy roads, carriages were not as popular as travelling by foot or by mule. When the Romans conquered mainland Greece in 146BC, they adopted and broadened the use of horse-drawn carriages.

The Carriage in the Renaissance

After having all but disappeared for many centuries, the horse-drawn carriage returned in 16th Century Hungary because of the invention of the suspension. This, along with the addition of leather cushions, made the vehicle considerably more comfortable for travel.

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About the Author

A professional copywriter and editor since 1997, Josh Michaels has contributed to the identities of such brands as The Walt Disney Company, Sun Microsystems, and 20th Century Fox. He holds a B.F.A. from New York University.