Friday, March 14, 2008
I've always been intrigued by the idea of war elephants. Elephants were first tamed and put to military use in India, it seems. Over time, and especially during India's Maurya Empire, thousands of elephants were put into military service. The Indian army of the Maurya Empire reportedly thwarted an incursion launched by Alexander the Great by arriving at the battlefield with a line of 9,000 war elephants; the sight sent panic and fear through Alexander's troops. Alexander was so impressed by Indian war elephants that he later sold a portion of Indian territory under Greek control back to the Indians in exchange for 500 war elephants.
War elephants were later famously deployed in Europe by Hannibal in the Second Punic War against the Romans; according to historical accounts, Hannibal led a troop of war elephants from Iberia, over the Pyrenees and the Alps, and into northern Italy to attack the Romans.