<p><strong>To protect it from drying out, a worker sprays water onto a millennia-old chariot recently unearthed in the city of <a href="http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/map-machine#s=h&amp;c=34.680856050511785,%20112.44357299804689&amp;z=9">Luoyang (map)</a> in central <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/china-guide/">China</a>.</strong></p><p><strong>Overall, 5 chariots and 12 <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/horse.html">horse</a> skeletons were found in the tomb pit, according to China's state-sponsored Xinhua news service. Archaeologists believe the tomb was dug as part of the funeral rites of a minister or other nobleman during the Eastern Zhou dynasty period, about 2,500 years ago.</strong></p><p>Chariots were important vehicles of war during the Zhou dynasty and were driven by nobleman-warriors wielding halberds or spears, said <a href="https://webspace.utexas.edu/dms2244/www/">David Sena</a>, a China historian at the University of Texas at Austin who was not involved in the discovery.</p><p>"During this period, there wasn't a distinction between the military class and an educated aristocratic class," Sena said.</p><p>"People with aristocratic backgrounds were expected to do both, and riding a chariot was one of the skills that a nobleman was expected to have."</p><p>(Related: <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/07/080724-olympics-hippodrome.html">"Ancient Olympic Chariot Racetrack Located?"</a>)</p><p><em>—Ker Than</em></p>

Pit Crew

To protect it from drying out, a worker sprays water onto a millennia-old chariot recently unearthed in the city of Luoyang (map) in central China.

Overall, 5 chariots and 12 horse skeletons were found in the tomb pit, according to China's state-sponsored Xinhua news service. Archaeologists believe the tomb was dug as part of the funeral rites of a minister or other nobleman during the Eastern Zhou dynasty period, about 2,500 years ago.

Chariots were important vehicles of war during the Zhou dynasty and were driven by nobleman-warriors wielding halberds or spears, said David Sena, a China historian at the University of Texas at Austin who was not involved in the discovery.

"During this period, there wasn't a distinction between the military class and an educated aristocratic class," Sena said.

"People with aristocratic backgrounds were expected to do both, and riding a chariot was one of the skills that a nobleman was expected to have."

(Related: "Ancient Olympic Chariot Racetrack Located?")

—Ker Than

Photograph by Zhang Xiaoli, Xinhua via Fame/Barcroft

Pictures: Ancient Chariot Fleet, Horses Unearthed in China

Hailing from China's "heyday of chariot warfare," five well-preserved chariots and accompanying horses have emerged from an urban tomb.

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