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King Tut’s chariots were supercars of their day

An investigation into the technical features of Tutankhamun’s chariots show that they were marvels of ancient engineering.

“These vehicles appear to be the first mechanical systems which combine the use of kinematics, dynamics and lubrication principles,” Rovetta said.

Further studies, in collaboration with Nasry Iskander at the conservation department of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, showed the unique interplay of form and function in King Tut’s chariots. These technical underpinnings involve the design of the wheels, the naves, the bearings, and the pole between the cart and the yoke.

“The wheels feature a real tire, made of a flexible wood rim, which adapts to soil irregularities. Moreover, the six-spoke wheels are made from elastic wood. This absorbs uniformly the loads transmitted by soil irregularity, so that the vibrations are damped by the wheel itself like the intelligent suspensions in modern cars,” Rovetta said.

The result is a remarkable level of softness and comfort. Even at speeds of about 25 miles per hour on Egypt’s irregular soil, King Tut’s chariots were efficient and pleasant to ride.

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