Chinese Chariot Revealed (Nova)
This PBS NOVA episode first aired May 17, 2017. For over a thousand years, chariots thundered across China’s battlefields,~dominating warfare far longer than anywhere else on Earth. Now a series of amazing archaeological discoveries, including whole chariots buried with their horses, has enabled a team of experts to probe the genius of China’s first super-weapon. By recreating a~battle chariot, they investigate the design secrets which made them such a long-lived war machine, all while discovering~how they were used, what set them apart from the rest of the world, and their role in the unification of China.
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Written by Janine Brill, 8th Grade ELA and Science, 7th and 8th Grade U.S. History, Mary Queen of Apostles School, New Kensington, PA
NOVA provides this interesting documentary about the Chinese chariot and its crucial role in the unification of China. A team of craftsmen, engineers, and military historians work together to replicate and field test a chariot based on archaeological findings at a 700 B.C. (Zhou Dynasty) burial site in Zaoyang, which is located in the Hubei Province of central China.
The film includes discussion of evidence supporting the idea that the chariot was a prized weapon and a symbol of power and prestige. Over a period of 500 years, the Chinese transformed the chariot of the Shang Dynasty. At the Chengpu Battle, the Jin charioteers were able to defeat the Chu with the chariots' ease of maneuverability, which was a key strategic factor for victory. The chariot had limited ability based on the terrain and man-made barriers, which led to a rise of cavalry and horse-mounted archers. Eventually, the chariot could not compete with the cavalry on the battlefield.
With the advent of iron technology in China during the 5th Century, the Chinese were able to produce more food, leading to a population explosion, which meant more warriors for warring states. The State of Chin was able to defeat the other states with its immense numbers of chariots, cavalry, and troops. Although the chariot lost its role as a superpower on the battlefield, it played an important role in the warfare that led to the unification of China.
This video is appropriate for grades 6-12, and could be integrated into any unit where there is focus on inventions, how they are used, and their effects on a society. In my history class, this film will be used for a compare and contrast essay activity after my students learn about the railroad and how it transformed the United States.