When Hannibal (247 - c. 182 BCE) moved against Rome, he crossed the Pyrenees from Spain with 37 elephants among his vast forces. The Carthaginians were the next major users. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The rider was crucial as he had trained the animal for years and it would obey only his commands. 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. The ram’s horn was thus a divine attribute associated with panic and madness. https://www.ancient.eu/article/876/. Pyrrhus already had 20 war elephants (although it remains unclear from where or whom he had obtained them). Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. 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. Thus its categorization was further complicated by the fact that an army, which deployed elephants might consider them allies, while the opposing army would consider them adversaries. These huge beasts would have terrified men and horses both visually and orally with their trumpeting. Bibliography Ancient History Encyclopedia. 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. 6:34.). 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. Ancient History Encyclopedia. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. In the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, the elephants carried rugs on their backs, called hatthatthara in the Buddhist Pali works. The Macedonian army then encountered elephants in the field at the Battle of the Hydaspes (326 BCE; the westernmost tributary of the Indus now called the Jhelum) against a king called Porus (perhaps Paurava, i.e., “King of the Purus”). This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. 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. Before the fighting, Ptolemy’s elephants are said to have raised trunks in prayer to the rising sun. In later times, the use of elephants was restricted to peace-time activities such as spectacles in the Roman arenas and circuses for public entertainment or as an impressive addition to public processions. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. 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. Alexander’s facial features are full of pathos, his diadÄma (headband) signifies his royalty, his large bulging eyes intimating his divinity. 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) They were established as rulers of Mauretania (approx. 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. Alexander’s undying fame thus owes more than is usually acknowledged to the elephant. Early use of elephants in battle by Alexander’s successors involved only a rider (mahout) and perhaps a spearman. Upcoming Events 2020 Community Moderator Election. Seleucid coinage regularly propagates the symbolic military importance of elephants as an expression of their power. In 275 BCE, in a battle known as the âElephant Victoryâ, Antigonus Gonatas, although outnumbered, used 16 elephants to terrify an army of Gauls into retreat. We were the first major power to field elephants on a large scale on battlefield. Greek authors continued to associate elephants with legends and fabulous monsters – that is, for our modern mind non-existing figments of ancient imagination. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. The latter minted coinage that expressed the symbolic connection between elephants and Alexander’s military victories. 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. We may take as a clue from the ancient notion that fear, like panic, was divinely inspired, and that elephants should first of all be interpreted as religious symbols – even in warfare. Cartwright, Mark. Roman Mosaic Showing the Transport of an Elephantby Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA). During the ensuing fight, the enemy’s elephants trampled foot soldiers indiscriminately in the confusion when attacked from the flank by the Macedonian cavalry. 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. Triumph of Fameby Metropolitan Museum of Art (Copyright). Troops became more mobiIe, siege-craft became just as common as open battles, and artillery came to the fore. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/876/. Able to readily acquire African elephants from the Atlas forest region they formed an elephant corps from the 260’s BCE. This was especially so as Roman warfare developed. Found 3 sentences matching phrase "elephant".Found in 0 ms. Web. The three attributes were associated with three supreme deities of three different cultures: the aegis with Zeus; the ram’s horns with Ammon; the exuvia with Indra. Elephant scalp worn by Demetrius I of Bactria (205â171 BC), founder of the Indo-Greek Kingdom, as a symbol of his conquest. Alexander & Porusby The Trustees of the British Museum (Copyright). 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 Asian elephant became known in Europe following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE and contact with the Mauryan Empire of India. Ever since the Stone Age, when elephants were represented by ancient petroglyphs and cave art, they have been portrayed in various forms of art, including pictures, sculptures, music, film, and even architecture. 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. However, in the Rigveda, the king of Gods and chief Vedic deity Indra is depicted as riding either Airavata, a mythological elephant, or on the horse Uchchaihshravas as his mounts. Related Content His son, Ptolemy Ceraunus, who was passed over for the succession, imitated his father’s coinage when he claimed the succession over Lysimachus’ kingship. 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. 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. Some ancient sources claim that elephants were given wine before battle in order to rouse them into a fighting frenzy. 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. - Animal Life in the Scriptures Ancient Elephant. 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. Detail of Roman Sarcophagus with an Elephantby Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA). Furthermore, Caesar supposedly entered Britain with an elephant in 54 BCE (Polyaen. For instance, Indra, the Lord of Heaven, rides a white elephant, which symbolizes his victory over the dragon Vritra, his adversary. War elephants are elephants that have been trained and are guided by humans during times of war. u (âelephantâ) (compare Tahaggart Tamahaq êlu, Tamasheq alu) or Egyptian ê£bw (âelephant; ivoryâ). Ancient History Encyclopedia, 16 Mar 2016. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. See more ideas about war elephant, elephant, ancient warfare. ", Lunsingh Scheurleer, R.A. "Elephants in Faience. One of Petrarch’s four famous Triumphs, the “Triumph of Fame over Death,” has been frequently illustrated by generations of artists. Pyrrhus (/ Ë p Éªr É s /; Ancient Greek: Î ÏÏÏÎ¿Ï, Pyrrhos; 319/318â272 BC) was a Greek king and statesman of the Hellenistic period. 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. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. 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. The Romans â¦ He controlled the direction the elephant took by applying pressure behinds the animal’s ears with his toes. Larger elephants were outfitted with tower-like devices protecting occupants from ground-level attack and providing an excellent battlefield vantage point. It was typically occupied by up to four javelin or missile throwers. This was at the Battle of Raphia (on the Sinai peninsula) in 217 BCE between Ptolemy IV and Antiochus III. The religious association of the elephant with victory and power is therefore obvious. “Behold the wild beasts around you,” God spoke to Job and continued describing a fearsome and mighty monster, literally a Behemoth (lit. Pyrrhus of Epirus was the first commander to employ elephants in Europe when he used 20 Asian ones in his campaigns in Italy and Sicily from 280 to 275 BCE. He, therefore, embodies aspects of both Heracles and Dionysus, and Alexander was also believed to be descended from Dionysus, through Deianira, the wife of Heracles. 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. Incidentally, Indra, like Zeus and even Alexander the Great, wields the thunderbolt. Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, is a princely hero. Seleukos I Nikator famously swapped parts of his eastern empire to gain 500 elephants from Indian emperor Chandragupta in 305 BCE. 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. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/1381/. 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. 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 â¦ Tossing, ripping, and crushing the enemy, elephants were used to cause havoc with any defensive fieldworks and fortifications too. Diodorus related that Indian elephants were outfitted to strike terror in warfare against the invading Assyrian queen Semiramis. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. Browse other questions tagged ancient-greece persia war-elephants greco-persian-wars or ask your own question. Most war elephants deployed in the Hellenistic period derived from India. 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. The most important effect of elephants in the field was probably, then, a psychological one. Web. So impressed was Alexander with the war elephants of Porus, who was said to have had a corps of 200 when he fought the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BCE, that he formed his own ceremonial elephant corps. 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. Farther along the campaign, another 125-150 elephants were obtained in the Indus Valley as a gift of a local prince and through hunting. 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. by The Trustees of the British Museum (Copyright), Elephant Symbolism on the Coins of Ptolemy I, The three attributes were associated with three supreme deities of three different cultures: the aegis with Zeus; the ram’s horns with, by Metropolitan Museum of Art (Copyright). According to Plutarch, 475 elephants took part in the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE during the Successor Wars. The trunk appears to curl as if in prayer in a manner resembling an upright cobra (uraeus). Even later authors could be quoted to confirm that in classical Greek and Latin literature, elephants belong to the same order of fierce and frightful fabulous monsters as the martichora, unicorn, griffon, sphinx, dragon, and hippocamp. present-day northern Morocco) and their son Ptolemy was the last known descendant of the Ptolemaic dynasty. License. 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. License. He also had an ankush or hooked stick for this purpose. 24 Dec 2020. 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. Employed historically in warfare to strike fear in the enemy, it should be remembered that panic was believed to be divinely inspired. Thank you! There are, furthermore, evident religious connections and influences between elephants and Hindu deities. CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons Todayâs placid scenes along the verdant shores of Greeceâs Pinios River, in Thessaly, belie its ancient history as the home of hippopotamuses, bison and even elephants, according to geologist/paleontologist and professor Athanassios Athanassiou. A thick sacking or leather cover could also be hung over the elephant’s back to protect its sides. Oppen, Branko V. "Elephants in Hellenistic History & Art." When Ptolemy (c. 367-282 BCE), the appointed governor of Egypt, transferred said funerary cortege to Memphis, the Macedonian regent Perdiccas retaliated by invading Egypt with the royal army, including elephants (c. 321/0 BCE). Branko van Oppen is an exhibition curator and independent scholar specialized in Ptolemaic queenship as well as Hellenistic art and ideology. 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. Elephants even appeared on Carthaginian coins of the period. "Elephants in Greek & Roman Warfare." Elephants, being only available from Africa or Asia, were expensive commodities to acquire for Mediterranean powers. Thatâs assuming the â¦ Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Tarentum, a Greek city in southern Italy recruited him to combat a growing and belligerent neighbour to the north, Rome. Understood as an emblem of military might, in antiquity and well beyond, I have argued that the elephant was a mythic monster. The frightful emanation of Shiva Bhairava and the mother goddess Varahi are depicted seated on an elephant; he clad in elephant’s skin and tiger’s hide, with a drum, corpse, trident, bowl, stick, and deer in his six hands; she with a plough, sacred tree, elephant goad, and noose. 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. 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. Oppen, Branko V. "Elephants in Hellenistic History & Art." I will answer this question from an Indian perspective. Another 80 elephants were captured after the battle, thus bringing the total to about 250. The riders were seven: two carried hooks, two were archers, two were swordsmen, and the last one had a lance and a banner. In other words, Alexander’s posthumous portraiture presents him as the rightful ruler over these cultures and the known world. ", Lorber, C.C. It persisted in the Balkans till 800 years ago and the Greek legend of the Hercules mentions lions in ancient Greece. The Indian species was used for this purpose. Elephants were dressed for battle in armour which protected their heads and sometimes front. Are there peacocks and elephants in Ancient Greece (4000 BC)? Cite This Work Some people might wonder why the world is still so hung up on ancient Greek myths when they are nothing but stories and they came from thousands of years ago. Next, the venerable Aristotle likewise discussed elephants in the same context as the martichora and believed that they could live for up to 300 years and “can be taught to kneel in the presence of the king.” (History of Animals 2.1, 8.9 and 9.46.). Sure, everyone is familiar with the North American Mastodon and the Woolly Mammothâbut how much do you know about the ancestral pachyderms of the Mesozoic Era, some of which predated modern elephants by tens of millions of years? Upon their return to Persia (c. 325 BCE), some 200 elephants are mentioned which had arrived via Arachosia and Carmania. The armies of the Antigonids and Ptolemies also fielded Asian elephants, although generally in much smaller numbers. This beast lies by the papyrus, reed and sedge, it strikes the river to pour water in its mouth and does not fear the flood. The use of elephants in warfare had spread to Persia in earlier centuries from India where elephants had been used for millennia. 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. Cleopatra Selene II, Boscorealeby HervÃ© Lewandowski (Copyright), Let us briefly return to the Hellenistic period and quickly make our way back eastwards. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Elephant corps did not have everything their own way, of course. They were said to have cunningly released pigs to disrupt Pyrrhus’ elephants at the Battle of Maleventum in 275 BCE. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. Cavalry horses, especially, are frightened even of their smell. Elephant & Griffonby Branko van Oppen (CC BY). Submitted by Branko van Oppen, published on 20 May 2019 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. There Pyrrhus gained notable victories against the Romans in the battles of Heraclea (280 BCE) and Asculum (279 BCE). This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Once the devastating sight of war elephants became a more common one on the ancient battlefield so their effectiveness diminished as the enemy became more prepared and better equipped to deal with them. The portraiture is best-known from early Hellenistic coinage but also appears on engraved gems. On many Hellenistic-style coins, signet rings and seal stones from Graeco-Bactria and Graeco-India elephants are depicted – a tradition that dates back to Harappan stamps-seals from the 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE. 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. As the gates of Susa were opened for Alexander, his forces acquired another twelve elephants. 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. Cartwright, Mark. Due to the Roman focus on infantry and its discipline, war elephants were rarely used. 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. 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. Elephants were, perhaps strangely, not used by the Romans as transportation of heavy goods either. With a reasonably well-trained army (around 30,000) he could only field 20 elephants, which underpins a vital aspect concerning them. The shape of the elephants’ trunks resembles the trumpet Fame sounds. More historically, Juba of Numidia (approx. Next, the ram’s horn that encircles Alexander’s temple is understood to be an attribute of Ammon, the Libyan oracular deity, whose cult lies in the desert oasis of Siwah. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. So, he too may possibly have been the Hindu deity identified with Heracles by the Greeks and Macedonians. Featured on Meta 2020 Community Moderator Election. The Hellenistic Period is a part of the Ancient Period for the... After securing the eastern Mediterranean seaboard and Egypt, Alexander... Monsters of Military Might: Elephants in Hellenistic History and Art, The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World, Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, Alonso Troncoso, V. "The Diadochi and the Zoology of Kingship: The Elephants. 18 Dec 2020. Therefore, the claim that the ancients set fire to pigs in order to cause panic among enemy elephants does seem to have an element of plausibility, although it should be pointed out that, despite Nossovâs claim (2008, p. 25), it is uncertain that the Romans themselves actually used fire. Ivory is mentioned several times in the 0. He issued punch-marked silver coins with religious symbols featuring an elephant and a bull, the sun and a tree on a hill, as well as the chakra (a “disc” referring to a Tantric nerve nexus). The founder of the Mauryan kingdom, Chandragupta established his power shortly after Alexander’s death (r. c. 322/1-299/8 BCE). In Alexander’s posthumous portraiture, it seems to be tied around his neck by two writhing snakes. Although the Carthaginians suffered heavy losses while crossing the Alps, an unspecified number of elephants did enter the Po Valley and then crushingly defeated the Roman consular armies at the Trebia River. Cite This Work In antiquity, two elephants were known â the Asian elephant ( Elephas maximus) and the African Forest elephant ( Loxodonta cyclotis). That is to say, the headdress represents the heroic appropriation of a monstrous attribute as an emblem of victory over a fabled foe. The first use of elephants by humans began about 4,000 years ago in India. Ceraunus famously died on the back of an elephant against the Galatians entering the Greek peninsula from across the Balkans (279 BCE). More at ivory. 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. See more ideas about war elephant, ancient warfare, ancient war. Last modified May 20, 2019. The snakes might allude to the legend that Olympias was impregnated by a god in the form of a snake. 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Is the Publishing Director at AHE were used to the fore propagates the military! In 280 BCE ) him to combat any elephants in Hellenistic History & Art ''. Sight, smell, and artillery came to the Roman Civil war ( BCE. We were the first major power to field elephants on a large scale on battlefield his eastern Empire gain! Large targets for artillery fire with ribs made of bronze and a spine of iron... Sacking or leather cover could also be hung over the elephant could drive unprepared horses into a of... The retinue of Dionysus were depicted with ram ’ s military victories spearman. Order to rouse them into a group of soldiers or horses could decimate a.!
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