Fwd: SV: Domestication of elephant

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Tue Dec 27 19:39:33 UTC 2005

Lars Martin sent this to me, confirming and elaborating on my vague memories of Porus et al.


>>> "Lars Martin Fosse" <lmfosse at online.no> 12/27/05 1:24 PM >>>

The following message was rejected by Indology for technical reasons. You
may repost it on my behalf if you like!

Lars Martin


I am away from my library, but I seem to remember the following:

Seleukos made a treaty with Candragupta to the effect that Seleukos should
withdraw from a certain amount of Indian territory, but receive some 500 war
elephants in return. Indian war elephants were very popular in the Middle
East, and such elephants managed by Indian mahouts are also mentioned in the
first book of Maccabees. Kings that did not have access to Indian elephants
tried to fill the "elephant gap" by means of African elephants. However, the
Romans found out how to handle elephants in the field (just as they were
able to handle chariots), and the strategic advantage to fielding war
elephants was eventually vastly reduced. Judging by the description in the
Arthashastra, the elephants also functioned as bulldozers and pathmakers in
the jungle. 

Incidentally, Porus' army did contain elephants. But the Greeks, like the
Romans later, knew how to handle them.

Lars Martin Fosse

Lars Martin Fosse
lmfosse at online.no 

-----Opprinnelig melding-----
Fra: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] På vegne av Allen W Thrasher
Sendt: 27. desember 2005 17:12
Til: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk 
Emne: Re: Domestication of elephant

Might the Harappan "feeding trough" indicate at least that the animals were
captured though not tamed?  Is there anything to indicate a stockade around

Didn't Chandragupta make a gift of elephants to Seleucus?  I think I
remember that Porus's army against Alexander a generation earlier contained
elephants, but am not sure.  It should be easy to check out.

Allen Thrasher

>>> yavass at MAIL.RU 12/27/05 7:12 AM >>>
Dear Valerie,
as far as I know the earliest artistic *representation* of the domesticated
elephant (a chakravartin's elephant)is on the Indian "rattle-mirror" 
from a royal burial of Scythian Pazyryk archeological culture in the Altai
mountains. The mirror is of pre-Mauryan date, approximately 
Vth or IVth century BC.
Harappan representations of elephants with a "feeding trough" in front of
the animal's trunk can not be seen as an evidence for domestication 
because the trough is usually represented in the same way in front of
tigers, rhynoceroses and other wild animals.

Yaroslav Vassilkov   

-----Original Message-----
From: Valerie J Roebuck <vjroebuck at MACUNLIMITED.NET>
To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk 
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 19:46:21 +0000
Subject: Domestication of elephant

> A friend has asked me the following question: when was the elephant 
> first domesticated in India?  I was sure that someone on this list 
> must know something...
> Valerie J Roebuck
> Manchester, UK

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