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NOVA: Building Pharaoh's Chariot

Some historians claim that the Egyptian chariot launched a technological and strategic revolution and was the secret weapon behind Egypt’s greatest era of conquest known as the New Kingdom. But was the chariot really a revolutionary design? How decisive was its role in the bloody battles of the ancient world? In "Building Pharaoh's Chariot," a team of archaeologists, engineers, woodworkers and horse trainers builds and tests two accurate replicas of Egyptian royal chariots. Driving them to their limits in the desert outside Cairo, NOVA’s experts test the claim that the chariot marks a crucial turning point in ancient military history.

Scene of hunting from a chariot, found in a tomb.

Scene of hunting from a chariot, found in a tomb.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH

The north wall at the Temple of Karnak, where Seti I is shown mounting his chariot to make war with his enemies.

The north wall at the Temple of Karnak, where Seti I is shown mounting his chariot to make war with his enemies.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH

Stone fragment of Tuthmosis III in the atef crown.

Stone fragment of Tuthmosis III in the atef crown.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH

Andre Veldmeijer and Selima Ikram with leather fragments from the Tano chariot.

Andre Veldmeijer and Selima Ikram with leather fragments from the Tano chariot.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH

Gunther Kunst and Irene F. Mueller with Egypt's earliest complete horse skeleton.

Gunther Kunst and Irene F. Mueller with Egypt's earliest complete horse skeleton.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH

Electrum chariot with harness and solar disc.

Electrum chariot with harness and solar disc.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH