Roman elephant of war

Roman elephant of war

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Roman elephant of war, Coloured historical artwork. The Romans originally only used elephants to carry their emperor but soon realised they would be good in battle when they were seen to attack gladiators in entertainment fights. Initially they carried centurions (battle leaders) but then, as this image shows, went on to hold infantry soldiers. Later they were let loose on the battlefield to kill enemy soldiers, which reduced the number of Roman casualties. The Romans first employed elephants of war in Gaul, and used them to conquer Celtic Britain in AD 43. The Celts had not previously seen elephants and believed them to be powerful dragons, a major advantage to the Romans. Artwork published in Histoire de la Locomotion Terrestre (Paris, 1936).

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