Horses were first domesticated on the steppes around 3500 BC, but the horse would not be ridden directly into battle for at least two more millennia. Instead chariots ruled the battlefields of the Bronze Age, with the great civilizations of Egypt, Sumer, Akkad, Mitanni, Mycenae, Shang China, the Hittites and Vedic India all extensively using chariots. The utility of the chariot in warfare for settled civilization prior to horseback riding is clear, but would the same apply to the nomadic rivals of a Bronze Age empire?
Eurasian Nomads relied on horse riding for their pastoral lifestyle, and for carving out massive empires through horse archery and rapid mobility. It was easy to raise massive numbers of horses on the steppe, given that it was their natural habitat, and the steppe nomads likewise rode horses nearly every single day of their lives, making them far superior cavalrymen to any warrior of a complex state. But would nomads in a time prior to horseback riding be able to compete anywhere near as effective when they have chariots?
My logic is that the nomads still have abundant numbers of horses and other livestock, and that they would be traveling by wagons and chariot constantly, which would give them a significant skill advantage. I think that even without actually riding horses simply working with them constantly would be an advantage.
Would it ultimately be feasible for Bronze Age nomadic pastoralists to utilize chariots extensively, and be a threat to settled people?
•I’m aware that chariots are inherently inferior to cavalry, particularly in regards to navigating rough terrain. But this question is about a time and place in which traditional cavalry just isn’t possible for anyone yet.
•The environments that this occurs in is steppe and river floodplains (ie nice and smooth).
•Again this is a Bronze Age setting.
•The city states and kingdoms the nomads raid also have chariots, but mostly rely on infantry. Consider any of the civilizations I mentioned above for reference