Category Archives: History

War Elephants

War Elephants

Where did Hannibal and others get their War Elephants?                                                                Two Species of Elephant

In antiquity, two elephants were known – the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and the African Forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). 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 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. 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. Many of Alexander’s successors went one step further and employed them in battle proper. Indeed, the Seleucid Empire made sure to exclusively control the traffic in Asian elephants.

Acquisition & Deployment

Elephants, being only available from Africa or Asia, were expensive commodities to acquire for Mediterranean powers. 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. Then there was the problem of transporting them to where they were needed, although famously, the Carthaginian general Hannibal managed to get at least some of his 37 elephants across the Alps and into Italy in 218 BCE.

TOSSING, RIPPING, AND CRUSHING THE ENEMY, ELEPHANTS WERE USED TO CAUSE HAVOC WITH ANY DEFENSIVE FIELDWORKS AND FORTIFICATIONS TOO. 

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. This meant that military commanders went out of their way to supplement their armies with elephants. Seleukos I Nikator famously swapped parts of his eastern empire to gain 500 elephants from Indian emperor Chandragupta in 305 BCE. The armies of the Antigonids and Ptolemies also fielded Asian elephants, although generally in much smaller numbers. 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. According to Plutarch, 475 elephants took part in the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE during the Successor Wars. In 275 BCE, in a battle known as the ‘Elephant Victory’, Antigonus Gonatas, although outnumbered, used 16 elephants to terrify an army of Gauls into retreat.    

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. There Pyrrhus gained notable victories against the Romans in the battles of Heraclea (280 BCE) and Asculum (279 BCE).

The Carthaginians were able to readily acquire African elephants from the Atlas forest region they formed an elephant corps from the 260’s BCE. These were used in the First and Second Punic Wars against Rome in the mid and late 3rd century BCE, notably in the Battle at the river Tagus in Spain in 220 BCE and at the Battle of Trebia in northern Italy in 218 BCE. Elephants even appeared on Carthaginian coins of the period. After his initial corps died in the winter of 218/217 BCE Hannibal acquired fresh replacements and used elephants again at the siege of Capua in 211 BCE.

Moses, Thutmose, Akhenaten & Osarsiph

Moses, Thutmose, Akhenaten & Osarsiph

The Exodus story, as described in most versions of the bible was first put in writing Circa 600 BCE as result of many years of oral tradition. It purports to document events that occurred between 1450 & 1300 BCE.

Some have speculated that Thutmose III was the Pharoah at the time of the Exodus or that even he was Moses.  While the time frame exists, there is no written documentation existing to support that idea. However, there is historical evidence that support another theory regarding the Character Osarsiph and a potential relationship to the demise of the Pharoah Akhenaten.

The following from: https://www.worldhistory.org/Moses/

The Egyptians are famous for their record-keeping and yet no records have been found which make the slightest reference to the departure of a segment of the population of the land which, according to the Book of Exodus, numbered “six hundred thousand men on foot besides women and children”

Manetho’s story of Osarsiph/Moses is related by the historian Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 CE) who cited Manetho’s story at length in his own work. The Roman historian Tacitus (c. 56-117 CE) tells a similar story of a man named Moses who becomes the leader of a colony of Egyptian lepers. This has led a number of writers and scholars (Sigmund Freud and Joseph Campbell among them) to assert that the Moses of the Bible was not a Hebrew who was raised in an Egyptian palace but an Egyptian priest who led a religious revolution to establish monotheism. This theory links Moses closely with the pharaoh Akhenaten (1353-1336 BCE) who established his own monotheistic belief in the god Aten, unlike any other god and more powerful than all, in the fifth year of his reign. Akhenaten’s monotheism may have been born of a genuine religious impulse or could have been a reaction against the priests of the god Amun who had grown almost as wealthy and powerful as the throne. In establishing monotheism and banning all the old gods of Egypt, Akhenaten effectively eliminated any threat to the crown from the priesthood. The theory advanced by Campbell and others (following Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism in this) is that Moses was a priest of Akhenaten who led like-minded followers out of Egypt after Akhenaten’s death when his son, Tutankhamun (c. 1336-1327 BCE), restored the old gods and practices. Still other scholars equate Moses with Akhenaten himself and see the Exodus story as a mythological rendering of Akhenaten’s honest attempt at religious reform.

Potential Egyptian Pharaohs during the estimated time of the Exodus:

Thutmose III ca. 1479–1425 B.C.

Hatshepsut (as regent) ca. 1479–1473 B.C.

Hatshepsut ca. 1473–1458 B.C.

Amenhotep II 1427–1400 B.C.

Thutmose IV ca. 1400–1390 B.C.

Amenhotep III ca. 1390–1352 B.C.

Amenhotep IV ca. 1353–1349 B.C.

Akhenaten ca. 1349–1336 B.C.

The Original Americans

Celebrating the 6th anniversary and over 300 postings to my blog. If you are new to the site I would encourage you to take a look at some of the earlier postings and/or check my book:Resurrecting Respect: True Patriotism

The Original Americans

The truth is that we still know very little about those that first inhabited the American Continents. Since conventional wisdom is that we all came out of Africa we must assume that these large land masses could only be populated by hominids via immigration. The same would hold true for the Continent of Australia which was inhabited no less than 48,000 years ago and possibly as early as 63,000 BC.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter is an archaeological site located near Avella in Jefferson Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, United States. The site is a rock shelter in a bluff overlooking Cross Creek (a tributary of the Ohio River), and contains evidence that the area may have been continually inhabited for more than 19,000 years. If accurately dated, the site would be the earliest known evidence of human presence and the longest sequence of continuous human occupation in the New World.

Monte Verde is an archaeological site in southern Chile, located near Puerto MonttSouthern Chile, which has been dated to as early as 16,500 BC. Previously, the widely accepted date for early occupation at Monte Verde was ~12,500 years BC.

 This dating added to the evidence showing that the human settlement of the Americas pre-dates the Clovis culture by roughly 1000 years. This contradicts the previously accepted “Clovis first” model which holds that settlement of the Americas began after 11,500 BC.  Even more discoveries at this site suggest that it might be even older by as much as another 10,000 years.

Why would the oldest site in the Americas be in Pennsylvania? Did they just magically “pop-up” there? Did they not stop and “settle” for a while on their journey? I’m just asking. Wouldn’t the original travelers that came via a land bridge from Asia not find the climate along the Pacific coast attractive. What was wrong with California? It was not heavily populated at the time.

What about the possibility that the site in Chili being even older than the one in North America. That must be impossible, or is it?

What I imagine is that we have more to learn and that the dates will continue to grow older.