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Quiz about Tales of the War Elephant
Quiz about Tales of the War Elephant

Tales of the War Elephant Trivia Quiz


In ancient times war elephants were used for shock attacks, and their very presence on the battlefield brought fear and panic to those who did not have them.

A photo quiz by ponycargirl. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
ponycargirl
Time
4 mins
Type
Photo Quiz
Quiz #
401,606
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
314
Awards
Editor's Choice
Last 3 plays: Guest 72 (5/10), Muttley211 (6/10), Guest 2 (9/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. Elephants had to be trained for quite some time before they were ready to appear at the line of battle. Which of the following statements is most accurate? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Which of the following areas, as evidenced in the epic known as "Mahabharata", is believed to have been the first to use war elephants? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Most elephants used in the military were bred.


Question 4 of 10
4. Which of the following animals was used as a good defense against a line of war elephants? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Due to their location, the Persians learned about the use of war elephants from people to the east and used them in their military campaigns. Which of the following battles, involving Alexander the Great, was the first time Europeans were challenged by Persian war elephants? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. War elephants fitted with tusk swords were a deadly force in ancient armies.


Question 7 of 10
7. In the ancient world, what was perhaps the easiest strategy for an army facing a line of war elephants? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. The Carthaginian general famously crossed the Alps with his war elephants during the Second Punic War in 218 BC. Which of the following statements BEST describes the outcome of this strategy? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. According to ancient historians, which of the following species of elephants appears to have been best suited for use in war? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Chandragupta Maurya was advised to include the study of elephant handling skills in the curriculum taught at his military academies. What empire did he establish in 322 BC? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Elephants had to be trained for quite some time before they were ready to appear at the line of battle. Which of the following statements is most accurate?

Answer: Female elephants could not be used in battle.

This may be difficult to believe, considering all of the information there is regarding the leadership skills of female elephants, but in the heat of battle, the females tended to run from the males. While they were used for the purpose of moving the army from place to place, females were of little use during battle.

The aggressive nature of bull elephants, however, made them the perfect candidates for use in war.
2. Which of the following areas, as evidenced in the epic known as "Mahabharata", is believed to have been the first to use war elephants?

Answer: India

Believe it or not, elephants were first domesticated about 4,000 years ago - but not for use in battle. They were used in agriculture to help clear land. It is believed that rulers in India began to use them for battle as early as 1100 BC; however, it was some time during the 6th century BC, in an attempt to spread influence and gain land, that war elephants became part of the military. Both the "Ramayana" and "Mahābhārata" tell of the use of elephants in warfare.
3. Most elephants used in the military were bred.

Answer: False

The price of breeding elephants was way too costly; even though there might be instances where elephants were bred in captivity, the majority were trapped and trained. This was an extremely long process in spite of the fact that most wild elephants are intelligent and highly trainable.

In ancient times it was believed that the best age for elephants to serve on the front line of battle was sixty! Think about the price of food alone for one animal, let alone tens or hundreds of them! By the time they were sixty, it was believed they were mature enough to be somewhat reliable. Even though they were highly trained, elephants were still wild animals and sometimes unpredictable.

In fact, the animal's handler would carry with him some type of sword that would be used to cut the spinal cord if the elephant's behavior became too dangerous to the rest of the group.
4. Which of the following animals was used as a good defense against a line of war elephants?

Answer: Pig

Elephants apparently absolutely cannot stand the squealing of pigs. This was noted by Roman authors Pliny the Elder in "Natural History", as well as Claudius Aelianus in "On the Nature of Animals"; Aelianus, also known as Aelian, said that the Romans employed the use of squealing pigs in their famous battle against Pyrrhus of Epirus.

He also wrote that during the siege of Megara in 266 BC the Macedonian leader Antigonus II Gonatas used pigs that were slathered with some sort of combustible material and set on fire to cause the elephants to stampede.

The ensuing chaos caused much damage to both armies on the battlefield. Some military leaders kept pigs with their elephants to try to accustom them to the sound. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as war pigs!
5. Due to their location, the Persians learned about the use of war elephants from people to the east and used them in their military campaigns. Which of the following battles, involving Alexander the Great, was the first time Europeans were challenged by Persian war elephants?

Answer: Battle of Gaugamela

Sources state that the Persians had a unit of 15 war elephants at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. It was the first time that the great Alexander saw elephants, and apparently the sight of the beasts caused much consternation among his men - so much that Alexander sacrificed to the god of fear the night before the battle took place. Evidently the elephants had no bearing on the outcome of the battle; historians hypothesize that they were tired from the march to get there! Alexander won easily, and took the elephants for his army.

As he moved east, then, he added to the number of war elephants in his army. He did notice, however, that the further east his army moved the more elephants potential enemies had to use against him; some armies boasted units of more than 3,000 elephants! It is said that this was one of the reasons Alexander gave up on his invasion of India.
6. War elephants fitted with tusk swords were a deadly force in ancient armies.

Answer: True

Also called elephant swords, tusk swords were typically made of iron or steel and were fitted over an elephant's tusks. The sword had a sharp edge that was sometimes coated with poison. The sight of elephants struck terror in the hearts of opposing army men; stampeding ones could inflict immeasurable damage to an army.

But what happened when a war elephant was outfitted with weapons? Just image the carnage that could be caused when swords were fitted to their tusks, or balls of steel were chained to their trunks. War elephants could be taught how to use their tusks or trunks to attack.
7. In the ancient world, what was perhaps the easiest strategy for an army facing a line of war elephants?

Answer: Let them pass through the ranks!

War elephants were typically placed at the center of the front line during battle, where they could charge at a speed of up to 20 miles per hour. They were very difficult to stop, but if an army loosened its ranks and allowed them to pass through, they were difficult to stop. This maneuver was only possible with a group of seasoned, well-disciplined veteran soldiers. Now that didn't necessary mean that your soldiers wouldn't be hurt. Once war elephants passed through enemy ranks, it was easy to cause a panic among them. They didn't like javelin wounds to their legs, and were relatively useless if their driver was killed. The bottom line is that in any scenario war elephants were unpredictable and could inflict as much harm on their own army as they did on their enemies.

Obviously, elephants would easily cut down both the cavalry and infantry, and horses panicked at the very smell of them. There is only one ancient battle, the Battle of Raphia in 217 BC, where it was recorded that elephants fought elephants, so it was not a strategy that was typically employed. Both the Macedonians and Romans are known to have opened their ranks to let the charging elephants go through.
8. The Carthaginian general famously crossed the Alps with his war elephants during the Second Punic War in 218 BC. Which of the following statements BEST describes the outcome of this strategy?

Answer: Most of the elephants died on the slippery slopes.

Obviously, elephants do not inhabit cold regions, and were totally unsuited to this type of strategy. They were unable to gain much of a foothold on the icy, snowy slopes, and it was written that even Hannibal's men had difficulty making the dangerous trek.

In fact, sources say that he lost about 1/2 of his army on the journey; the Hellenistic historian Polybius said the number lost amounted to 33,000 people. As far as the elephants are concerned, sources say that he left Spain with 37 elephants and entered Italy with a "few". One source estimated a dozen remained and another stated that as many as 30 remained. Whatever the number, it was written that the war elephants that made it through the Alps were weak and starving when they reached the other side.

Although it was recorded that Hannibal's war elephants were present at the Battle of Trebia in 218 BC and fulfilled their role of providing terror and chaos, their presence appears to have had little or no effect during the course of the war.

It has been noted that by the end of the fighting only one elephant remained - and that was the one that Hannibal himself rode into battle. Even though Hannibal led successful campaigns in Italy during the Second Punic Wars, the use of elephants had little or no impact on the overall outcome of the war.
9. According to ancient historians, which of the following species of elephants appears to have been best suited for use in war?

Answer: Asian

Believe it or not, wild elephants did exist in ancient Mesopotamia, but they became extinct by 850 BC. Both of the African species were used in battle; the North African elephant, while used by Carthage, Numidia, and other northern kingdoms, was smaller, very difficult to train, and unable to swim in and cross deep rivers as the Asian elephants did.

While the African savannah elephant was larger, it also proved to be very difficult to train, and was seldom used. Asian elephants, believed to be the first species domesticated for war, were larger and could even carry archers into battle.
10. Chandragupta Maurya was advised to include the study of elephant handling skills in the curriculum taught at his military academies. What empire did he establish in 322 BC?

Answer: Maurya Empire

The Maurya Empire (322-185 BC) was founded by Chandragupta Maurya and occupied most of the subcontinent of India. It was written than his elephant corps numbered 9,000 of the beasts; his war elephant corps was considered to be so valuable that it was governed by its own separate leader, called a gajadhyaksha. Chandragupta was encouraged to develop his elephant corps by the famous Chanakya, an Indian author who aided in the establishment of the empire, and wrote that capturing and training war elephants was so important that the art was taught in military schools.

He also advised that forest retreats should be established for the well-being of the animals.
Source: Author ponycargirl

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor trident before going online.
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