M Marcius Mn f Silver Denarius, 134BC (depicting the Modius)
Obverse: Helmeted head of Roma right, modius behind, X below chin
Ref: S 122
3.6g, 17mm, Fine £70
The chariot is believed to have been first used by the Mesopotamians; basically two wheeled carts, but the Egyptians were the first to see their benefit as an efficient battle tool around 1600BC. The Romans then adopted them and they quickly became a vehicle for 'pleasure,' as well as travel and war, with the development of the chariot race. The usual types of chariot used were the two horse variety: the biga, or the four horse type: the quadriga. The less common types were the triga (or tririga), with three horses used for ceremonies and the seiuga, the six-horse chariot. The latter was difficult to drive and needed a lot of skill.
Two-horse chariots are a common icon on Roman coins; the bigatus, a type of denarius was so called because it depicted a biga. In the iconography of religion and cosmology, the biga represents the moon and the quadriga the sun, and often shows other animals pulling the chariots. The carriage itself was made to be as light as possible, being constructed of wicker and leather or fabric and has been estimated to have weighed about 30kg.
The triga is occasionally depicted on Greek coins, but rarely on Roman republican coins; in fact there are only two types that I know of, and they are both for sale here:
Dei Penates denarius, Silver Denarius, 47 BC, C. Antius C. f. Restio, The Dei Penates.
Obverse: Diademed jugate heads of the Dei Penates right; DEI PENATES behind
Reverse: Naked Hercules advancing right, brandishing club and holding trophy; C ANTIVS (CF)
Rarely offered coin in affordable state!
Slightly off centre. 17-19mm, 3.5g
Reference: S435; CRR 971