During the ensuing fight, the enemy’s elephants trampled foot soldiers indiscriminately in the confusion when attacked from the flank by the Macedonian cavalry. Alexander was believed to be descended from Heracles, the son of Zeus. Bibliography When Alexander died, his funeral carriage was decorated among many other things with a tablet of Indian elephants driven by mahouts, followed by Macedonian troops. Roman Mosaic Showing the Transport of an Elephant, Detail of Roman Sarcophagus with an Elephant, Detail of a 6th Century CE Elephant Mosaic. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. The use of elephants in warfare had spread to Persia in earlier centuries from India where elephants had been used for millennia. There is uncertainty as to when elephant warfare first started but it is widely accepted that it began in ancient India.The early Vedic period did not extensively specify the use of elephants in war. When Pyrrhus of Epirus (319-272 BCE) requested support for his upcoming Italian campaign, Ptolemy II could afford to provide him with 50 elephants, among other forces. Roman Mosaic Showing the Transport of an Elephantby Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA). Ancient History Encyclopedia, 20 May 2019. The riders were seven: two carried hooks, two were archers, two were swordsmen, and the last one had a lance and a banner. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Tossing, ripping, and crushing the enemy, elephants were used to cause havoc with any defensive fieldworks and fortifications too, where they knocked down walls with their foreheads or pulled them down with their trunks. Upcoming Events 2020 Community Moderator Election. In the search for ever more impressive and lethal weapons to shock the enemy and bring total victory the armies of ancient Greece, Carthage, and even sometimes Rome turned to the elephant. Submitted by Branko van Oppen, published on 20 May 2019 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Thank you! Early use of elephants in battle by Alexander’s successors involved only a rider (mahout) and perhaps a spearman. While the Romans did eventually adopt them, and used them occasionally after the Punic wars, especially during the conquest of Greece, they fell out of use by the time of Claudius, after which they were generally used for the purpose of demoralizing enemies instead of being used for tactical purposes. At an average height of 2.5 metres, weighing around 5 tonnes, and trotting up to 16 km/h (10mph), they could be tremendously effective wrecking machines. The trunk appears to curl as if in prayer in a manner resembling an upright cobra (uraeus). "Elephants in Greek & Roman Warfare." Oct 7, 2019 - Explore Mark Domenico's board "War elephant" on Pinterest. Ammon was identified both with Zeus and Amun-Ra, the supreme creator god. Still, their symbolic importance for Carthage is expressed on a series of Hannibal’s coinage, which depict a cloaked rider with a goad in his hand, but no turret. This latter eventuality was, in part, avoided by the stationing of a small team of infantry to protect the elephant’s legs. ", Lunsingh Scheurleer, R.A. "Elephants in Faience. During the succession crisis that erupted at Alexander’s sudden death, elephants were employed not only when opposing factions were about to engage each other in fighting, but also to execute the death sentence after the rivals were put on ad-hoc trial. “Behold the wild beasts around you,” God spoke to Job and continued describing a fearsome and mighty monster, literally a Behemoth (lit. The king commemorated his victory by sacrificing four of his enemy’s elephants. Alexander’s posthumous portraiture was first devised under Ptolemy in Egypt and subsequently imitated by Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ceraunus. Allegedly the cognomen of Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) derived from the Moorish word for “elephant” (caesai), rather than from caesius or caeruleus (pertaining to the color of the sky). Elephant Symbolism on the Coins of Ptolemy Iby Branko van Oppen (CC BY-NC-SA). ". The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Web. Suggested Reading. Regardless of what animal the biblical Behemoth might reflect, it remains interesting that later, according to Pliny, the Romans would call elephants “bulls” after first encountering them during the campaign against Pyrrhus. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. Browse other questions tagged ancient-greece persia war-elephants greco-persian-wars or ask your own question. In ancient Carthage, elephants were sometimes given copious quantities of wine to drink - elephants enjoy alcohol - and then their legs were prodded with red-hot irons. This helped work the beasts into a rage. Ivory is mentioned several times in the 0. Aug., Ael. - Animal Life in the Scriptures Ancient Elephant. Furthermore, Caesar supposedly entered Britain with an elephant in 54 BCE (Polyaen. The supreme deity Shiva is considered both benign and frightful. John M. Kistler, War Elephants (London, 2006) Adrienne Mayor, Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World (New York, 2003) H. H. Scullard, The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World (London, 1974) For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. On an early 16th-century Flemish tapestry (now in New York) the personification of Fame stands in a chariot drawn by two white elephants as they trample death and fate. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. While reinforcements of African forest elephants would eventually reach Hannibal, they failed to assert any decisive effect even at the final Battle of Zama (201 BCE). Of particular importance is the combination of the elephant scalp with a ram’s horn over his temple and the aegis (a sacred goat’s fleece) thrown over his shoulder. The iconography includes Bactrian kings wearing the elephant scalp as headdress as well as Hindu deities accompanied by an elephant. According to the Mahabharata, the elephants were provided with armour, girths, blankets, neck ropes and bells, hooks and quivers, banners and standards, yantras (possibly stone-or-arrow-hurling contrivances) and lances. Ancient authors recognized Heracles in an unspecified Hindu deity and the identification remains unsettled among modern scholars. The ram’s horn was thus a divine attribute associated with panic and madness. During the eastern campaign of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), Greek and Macedonian soldiers first encountered elephants in Assyria, at the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE), where they were, however, apparently not deployed. After Perdiccas’ disastrous defeat about 50-60 elephants apparently fell to Ptolemy. Added to this was the cost of maintaining them and training both the wild elephant and its rider to form some sort of battle order on the field of combat. For instance, Indra, the Lord of Heaven, rides a white elephant, which symbolizes his victory over the dragon Vritra, his adversary. While the worship and iconography of Ganesha only developed from the 4th century CE, the sacred status of the elephant in India is well established since the 3rd millennium BCE. u (“elephant”) (compare Tahaggart Tamahaq êlu, Tamasheq alu) or Egyptian ꜣbw (“elephant; ivory”). (Hist. Another 80 elephants were captured after the battle, thus bringing the total to about 250. However, one look at the vast amount of ancient Greek-themed movies and literature today, people will quickly come to the conclusion that the world is still fascinated with Greek mythology though they might not always be able to say why. There are, furthermore, evident religious connections and influences between elephants and Hindu deities. The third attribute, the aegis belonged to Zeus, who presented it to Athena, who in turn is commonly depicted wearing the fleece. Triumph of Fameby Metropolitan Museum of Art (Copyright). Bibliography Found 3 sentences matching phrase "elephant".Found in 0 ms. One of the most precious artifacts among the Boscoreale treasure discovered in 1895 CE (now in the Louvre) – and perhaps one of the most beautiful works of ancient art – is a silver emblema dish with an allegorical portrait attributed to Cleopatra Selene (40-5 BCE), the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. The Pyrrhic campaign inspired the Carthaginians to acquire war elephants by the time of the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE). All three attributes symbolize Alexander’s divine sonship and the attributes portray him as the heroic descendant of the slayer of demons, underlying the associations between the mythic figures of Dionysus and Heracles (both sons of Zeus), Shiva (an emanation of Indra) and Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu), as well as Horus (the reincarnation of Osiris). Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe. The most important effect of elephants in the field was probably, then, a psychological one. This association might be compared with the aegis, which served the apotropaic function of warding off evil forces and was itself connected with divine protection and military defense. Ancient History Encyclopedia. "An Egyptian Interpretation of Alexander’s Elephant Headdress. The Carthaginians were the next major users. It appears frequently as an attribute of military might on Hellenistic bronze figurines and decorative elements (of which several examples are found in museums across the world). Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/876/. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. Detail of a 6th Century CE Elephant Mosaicby Carole Raddato (CC BY-NC-SA). Tossing, ripping, and crushing the enemy, elephants were used to cause havoc with any defensive fieldworks and fortifications too. From Alexander to Hannibal During the eastern campaign of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), Greek and Macedonian soldiers first encountered elephants in Assyria, at the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE), where they were, however, apparently not deployed. Understood as an emblem of military might, in antiquity and well beyond, I have argued that the elephant was a mythic monster. The armies of the Antigonids and Ptolemies also fielded Asian elephants, although generally in much smaller numbers. According to Plutarch, 475 elephants took part in the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE during the Successor Wars. Elephants, being only available from Africa or Asia, were expensive commodities to acquire for Mediterranean powers. During the late Roman Empire elephants were also given and received as gifts to improve diplomatic relations with neighbouring states. Most war elephants deployed in the Hellenistic period derived from India. This meant that military commanders went out of their way to supplement their armies with elephants. If this happened the rider used a metal spike and hammer to pierce the elephant’s brain and kill it immediately. Seleukos I Nikator famously swapped parts of his eastern empire to gain 500 elephants from Indian emperor Chandragupta in 305 BCE. This suggestion is substantiated by the accounts of the Battle of Raphia (217 BCE) which decisively settled the Fourth Syrian War between the forces of Ptolemy IV and Antiochus III in favor of the former. In the 270’s BCE, for example, Ptolemy II trained African elephants for use in his army and even appointed a high official to be responsible for them, the elephantarchos. The combination of these three attributes remains poorly understood, although the portrait as a whole makes little sense from a classical Graeco-Macedonian perspective. In the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, the elephants carried rugs on their backs, called hatthatthara in the Buddhist Pali works. Oppen, B. V. (2019, May 20). Elephant & Griffonby Branko van Oppen (CC BY). Elephants were, perhaps strangely, not used by the Romans as transportation of heavy goods either. Well into common era the elephant continued to feature frequently on Kushan coinage (1st-4th century CE), including kings riding elephants. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. present-day northern Morocco) and their son Ptolemy was the last known descendant of the Ptolemaic dynasty. So, he too may possibly have been the Hindu deity identified with Heracles by the Greeks and Macedonians. Troops became more mobiIe, siege-craft became just as common as open battles, and artillery came to the fore. “wild beast”), likened to bulls, with ribs made of bronze and a spine of cast iron. He also had an ankush or hooked stick for this purpose. Then they obviously provided large targets for artillery fire. Furthermore, the scalp is worn over the head as Heracles wore the scalp of the Nemean Lion. Ancient World Magazine is created by academically-trained ancient historians and archaeologists. The latter is now almost extinct and only found in the Gambia; it was smaller than the, at the time unknown, African elephant of central and southern Africa (Loxodonta africana), which explains why ancient writers all claimed the Indian elephant was larger than the African. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. 8.23.5.) The damage an elephant - let alone several hundred - could inflict was enormous, but first the beast had to be compelled to fight. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. Even more famously, at the Battle of Zuma in 202 BCE, the Roman general Scipio Africanus allowed Hannibal’s 80 elephants to run through gaps purposely made in his infantry lines and then turned the animals around using drums and trumpets to let them cause havoc with the enemy. After the death of her parents, Octavian brought her to Rome and subsequently married her to King Juba II of Numidia, son of Juba I. According to Patrick Winn, a correspondent for The World, war elephants may be divided into two types: those which participate in battles and those used for logistical purposes. Nor were elephants any help to the senatorial armies of Scipio and Cato that faced Julius Caesar in North Africa at the Battle of Thapsus in 46 BCE. As the ancient historian Ammianus Marcellinus put it, "the human mind can conceive nothing more terrible than their noise and huge bodies" (Anglim, 132). There Pyrrhus gained notable victories against the Romans in the battles of Heraclea (280 BCE) and Asculum (279 BCE). Ancient History Encyclopedia. However, the animals often turn on their own ranks trampling indiscriminately whoever comes in their way. Seleucus I (c. 358-281 BCE) is said to have obtained 400-500 which he employed against Antigonus I and Lysimachus but then they are never heard of again. The snakes may also refer to the uraeus (upright cobra) or the serpents coiling around the head of Medusa. Still, Caesar was able to defeat Metellus Scipio at the Battle of Thapsus in Tunisia (46 BCE) and he captured over 60 elephants after his African victory and displayed 40 in a Roman triumph. Oppen, Branko V. "Elephants in Hellenistic History & Art." Are there peacocks and elephants in Ancient Greece (4000 BC)? Even the smell of elephants could drive unprepared horses into a stampede. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 16 Mar 2016. They were deployed on the battlefield to strike terror into the enemy, however, since fear was considered divinely inspired, elephants can be interpreted as religious symbols even in warfare. In the search for ever more impressive and lethal weapons to shock the enemy and bring total victory the armies of ancient Greece, Carthage, and even sometimes Rome turned to the elephant. Elephants were dressed for battle in armour which protected their heads and sometimes front. C.A. In reality, perhaps only a handful of ancient battles had been decided because of the intervention of elephants. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. The ultimately unsuccessful campaign was commemorated on a ceramic plate from Capena (now in the Villa Giulia, Rome), which shows a turreted elephant with a rider and fighters on its back, followed by a cub. Strabo mentioned elephants about 50 times: citing Onesicritus that elephants could live for up to 500 years; Megasthenes who claimed to have seen elephants in a Bacchic chase; and Artemidorus who described elephants in Ethiopia along with sphinxes and dragons. License. Seleucid coinage regularly propagates the symbolic military importance of elephants as an expression of their power. The frightful Shiva, also understood as an emanation of Indra, is a destroyer, the slayer of demons. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. Allegedly, Antiochus’ 16 elephants instilled panic among the Galatians, causing great carnage and producing victory in battle. When the sun god Helius (Amun-Ra) appeared to him in a dream expressing his anger, Ptolemy set up four bronze elephants as votives to appease the god. From the 270’s a light-weight tower (howdah or thorakia) of wood and leather was strapped to the larger Asian elephant using chains, and protected with shields hanging down its sides. Despite the cost and difficulties, and because in antiquity the evolution in weaponry was extremely slow, the attraction of such large animals trampling all over the enemy remained. Greek authors continued to associate elephants with legends and fabulous monsters – that is, for our modern mind non-existing figments of ancient imagination. The Romans seem to have been largely unimpressed with the use of elephants and employed them only rarely and in small numbers, usually supplied via Numidia. In this slideshow, you'll follow the slow, majestic progress of elephant evolution over 60 million years, starting with the pig-sized Phosphatherium and ending … Indeed, such was the demand that at Latium and Constantinople permanent herds were kept and the insatiable desire for wild elephants practically wiped out the forest elephant of North Africa. Starting with the association with Alexander’s Indian triumph, the exuvia (elephant’s scalp) might best be understood as an attribute of an Indian deity, such as Indra, Shiva, or Krishna. Unfortunately, impressive though they must have seemed on the battlefield, the cost of acquiring, training, and transporting these creatures, along with their wild unpredictability in the heat of battle, meant that they were used only briefly and not particularly effectively in Mediterranean warfare. 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