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Old 21st November 2019, 07:22 PM   #121
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
...Fernando, you must temember that measurers/weights were more floating centuries ago - and we are speaking about the 16th century...

You are right Jens; i am aware of that.
I was more focusing on the particularity that each interpreter mentions measure units that are so distant in length from each other. Braces have nothing to do with cubits, no matter their floating through time.


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Old 22nd November 2019, 01:06 PM   #122
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From Fernão Mendes Pinto (1509-83) "PEREGRINAÇÃO", page 184 ...
As went, two hundred elephants armed with castles, and war panouras, which are the swords that they carry in their tusks when they battle ...
It looks legitimate to conclude that, swords were either 'socketed' to their tusks. or fastened to their trunk... depending on the local fashion.


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Old 22nd November 2019, 02:10 PM   #123
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I am with Fernando.
Elephant tusk swords are well documented. But I have never seen an authenticated trunk sword.
Functionally, it makes sense: attaching a blade to a solid and immovable tusk eliminates the danger of self-injury.
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Old 22nd November 2019, 03:15 PM   #124
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In the quote in post 106 Ludovico di Varthema must have seen a trunk sword used according to the way he descrubes it.
I have not seen a trunk sword either, so maybe they were melted down when they went out of use, but the tusk swords may still have been used at parades - who knows?
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Old 22nd November 2019, 04:09 PM   #125
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Whether trunk swords were melted or are kept in private collections based on their rarity, or even forgotten in musem sub-basements, is something to admit.
Varthema is much too specific for us to reject the possibility/probability that such version also took place; neither its confusion with the dual tusk swords seems to be plausible.
Look at (my attempted) Castillian translation ...


" The weapon that the elephant carries is only his trunk; which they call Manum. On said trunk they tie an unsheathed sword, two cubits long, and fat and wide like the palm of a hand ... "

What do you say, Ariel ?
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Old 24th November 2019, 05:04 PM   #126
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Beats me...
I just do not understand why don’t we have any physical “ trunk” swords?

We have living examples of outdated temple swords, super heavy training swords, exotic tribal swords, variety of sousson pattas, - i.e. by definition rare examples that were superseded by the widely used ones, but no “trunk” swords.

Fighting elephants were used for centuries and in humongous numbers. And still, we have physical examples of “ tusk” swords but not “ trunk “ ones.

Perhaps, the local medieval chapter of Indian PETA banned their use and destroyed all the specimens:-))))))
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Old 24th November 2019, 08:06 PM   #127
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Military Elephants when they die, like Vikings, must die holding their sword in their trunk and are thus buried with them in the elephant graveyard, secretly, by the other martial elephants, a place which no living human is allowed to discover. From there they Enter the elephant equivalent of Valhalla, where each Male elly has a herd of 72 Females and a horde of human servants to cater to his every whim. As long as they have a sword in their trunk, which is locked with a random 1024 character and number combination (with special symbols) password only the elephant can remember. Thus Elephant trunk swords do not seem to exist in the Human world. It is the will of Ganesh.
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Old 24th November 2019, 08:26 PM   #128
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Wayne ... please !
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Old 24th November 2019, 09:42 PM   #129
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
... Fighting elephants were used for centuries and in humongous numbers. And still, we have physical examples of “ tusk” swords but not “ trunk “ ones...

Could it be that tusk swords had a more uniform shape, more subject of adornment and all, and lived longer due to their later use in parades and escorts ... and trunk swords were more of a raw and random implement, more doomed to disappear into scrap ?
Indeed without a living example we can only speculate.

On the other hand, some of these period chroniclars were sharp narrators; difficult to digest that they confused trunks with tusks.
Still we face situations like:

Linschoten, a Dutch adventurer that visited those areas aboard Portuguese ships (1570-80), from whom he 'borrowed' significant navigation notions:

...Those from Ceylon (Sri lanka) and Pegu (Burmania) use elephants in war; they bind swords to their teeth, and above them go five or six men with beasts, arches and pots of fire; but if an elephant goes back, the others follow and run over their own troops...

João Ribeiro, a Captain who has been in command of the Portugueses forces in the island (1685-93), having written "HISTORIC FATALITY OF CEYLON ISLAND"

... The King of Candia, when wiling to attack us, brought in the front of his army some elephants with whom he could break us, and they placed in their trunks shapeless swords the width of a hand and each brought on top two mahouts, so that we killed one, the other remained...


So here have two guys writing about the same island, both mentioning elephants warmed with swords, however with a distinct system.

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Old 25th November 2019, 01:01 AM   #130
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Tough to argue with eye witnesses.
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Old 26th November 2019, 12:40 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is a good point......just how much fantasy or hubris laden license is included in the art depicting events and battles of hundreds of years before?
We know that many famous artworks depicting important battles were often painted many years after the events, and more current research has often revealed profound differences in actual circumstances vs. the portrayal in art.

In the articles cited here, the Shahnama (of Shah Tahmasp written c. 1590) is said to depict the Battle of Pashan in a painting which shows elephants using tusk swords, but it is noted that the event took place hundreds of years before. Other references claim that the use of tusk swords go back over a thousand years. It is here usually noted that these times precluded miniatures which might have illustrated these tusk swords contemporarily.

Richardson suggests that by lack of inclusion of tusk swords in the well known Mughal records of arms in the Ain-I-Akbari also c. 1590s may well have been because these were out of use by then. Perhaps also, they were not significantly used enough to warrant inclusion in this comprehensive record.


Is it possible that the dangerously deadly tusks of the elephants were compared to swords as they attacked in battle? and this became construed into actual swords attached. Why would a sword be used to supplant an already dangerous natural weapon? I think of descriptions of weapons in India's array of innovative weapons which are described using many animals natural defenses such as bagh-nakh; bichwa; tigers tail; and others.....could such converse portrayal be the case?


With the fact that survival of so many weapon forms, particularly of the 15th c. onward, why would only several of these pairs of tusk 'swords' be left? especially if 'thousands' of them were produced.

This situation reminds me very much of the case in the 17th c. of the famed "Winged Hussars of Poland", and the curious wings mounted on the backs of their cuirass. It was supposed that these would make terrifying noise as these hussars charged in battle, and of course many artworks depicted these fantastic warriors in battle with their wings. However, it seems that research suggests these were primarily a parade device, and worn ceremoniously, a case of course often debated still.

Could these tusk swords have been in the same way, ceremoniously used and their fearsome appearance extended into artwork depicting earlier battles where elephants were used in battle?

Regarding the use of a sword on the trunk, that as we discussed in 2008 here, would be disastrous, as if the tusk swords would not be trouble enough. Elephants are remarkably intelligent animals and fearfully volatile. This I believe is one of the purposes of the weapon/implement called the ankus. The mahout can use it as a goad but it is bladed as well allegedly to dispatch the elephant if out of control.
I am unclear on the use of weights on the trunk as these would be as deadly as the other.



Just wanted to bump this entry back up rather than to try to reiterate what I said before.
It seems to me the TUSK swords were in place in some degree, possibly more of a parade element, and not widely employed. Still the great paucity of surviving examples suggests they may have been 'recycled'.

With the TRUNK sword mystery, as I have noted, I cannot see the possible purpose of arming an elephant with a weapon which swung about at the whim or exacerbation of these huge animals would endanger both friend and foe. It does seem that weights and chains were placed on the trunks, perhaps to restrict the flailing of this appendage, but that sounds questionable as well given the strength of these.

While the period narratives added do suggest the elephants 'armed to the teeth' (pun intended) they certainly meant swords bound to the TUSKS not the teeth, and I wonder if similar misperception might apply in the next account pertain to swords held in TRUNKS. It seems well known that hyperbole laden descriptions are often describing events in exotic circumstances, so 'eye witness' accounts are not necessarily the most reliable evidence.

It does seem that most of the accounts of elephants in warfare agree that the volatility of the demeanor in these huge animals in the explosive nature of combat was a definite threat to all in the area. It was bad enough having them trampling back through the ranks WITHOUT a flailing sword in the trunk.
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Old 26th November 2019, 10:02 AM   #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...While the period narratives added do suggest the elephants 'armed to the teeth' (pun intended) they certainly meant swords bound to the TUSKS not the teeth, and I wonder if similar misperception might apply....


Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth, usually but not always in pairs, that protrude well beyond the mouth of certain mammal species. They are most commonly canine teeth, as with warthogs, pigs, and walruses, or, in the case of elephants, elongated incisors.

Thus 'armed to the teeth' is correct especially with a chain of translations from indian languages to western ones and then to english here. Elephant swords were mounted on teeth, the TUSK ones, or front incisors if you want to be more precise.
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Old 26th November 2019, 11:46 AM   #133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth, usually but not always in pairs, that protrude well beyond the mouth of certain mammal species. They are most commonly canine teeth, as with warthogs, pigs, and walruses, or, in the case of elephants, elongated incisors.

Thus 'armed to the teeth' is correct especially with a chain of translations from indian languages to western ones and then to english here. Elephant swords were mounted on teeth, the TUSK ones, or front incisors if you want to be more precise.

What a serious shot Wayne; i envy you for antecipating my entry.
In fact, there was no such thing as TUSKS at the time ... nor in context.The period term commonly used by those guys for those things portruding from the elephants (and others) mouth, was TEETH, as is still currently used today over here.The term used in Malay, the then local lingua franca, was [PALO], and in Calecut FALEY, terms familiar with Alvaro Velho, for one, who wrote them down in his work.
... Whether the versions written by the various travellers, chroniclars and soldiers of the time, some who have being close/st to such scenarios, each one at his time, were of fruit of their romantic imagination. Captain João Ribeiro was a soldier, who has actually faced war elephants; i don't think he needed to romanticize his description. Look at the thorough manner he describes, in the first person, the way to frighten the attacking elefants, by means of using 'fire lances' (the predecessor of rockets ) handled by tough soldiers who pointed at their eyes, so they would turn back and strike their own army in the same way they were attacking the enemy. We know from other historians that (quoting) for as much as they 'blanketed' the elephants to protect them from enemy's throwing lances etc, their eyes would have to be uncovered, as we also read about (quoting) losing ( don't recall which animals) in fire would result in their tumultuous retreat.
After reading all such exaustive enhances, not all of us are ready to assume that all these period folks were combined to transform into plausibilty the same recurrent hearsay/s, as they would have all been harvesting in the same grapevine.
As a fait divers, don't underestimate the elephant's TRUNK (another borrowed term) ability; considering that it is composed of up to 40 000 (forty thousand) mussles while us, vulgar humans, only have 600 in the whole body. So they sure would know how to handle and strike things (swords) in a 'professional manner'. I think of my sissi coleagues in the army whom, during hand greanade throwing trains, would damage their arms.
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Old 26th November 2019, 11:49 AM   #134
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth, usually but not always in pairs, that protrude well beyond the mouth of certain mammal species. They are most commonly canine teeth, as with warthogs, pigs, and walruses, or, in the case of elephants, elongated incisors.

Thus 'armed to the teeth' is correct especially with a chain of translations from indian languages to western ones and then to english here. Elephant swords were mounted on teeth, the TUSK ones, or front incisors if you want to be more precise.


Ahah!! Now that reveals my total lack of specific knowledge of mammal dental conditions Dr. Kronckew!!! I think this would constitute a 'fox paws (faux pas) on my part, and my pun was actually not so punny. I am puzzled by the note that these elongated teeth do not always extend in pairs though. Some mammals have only one tusk, or possibly more than two?

While my comments on the description of attaching swords (more accurately, blades ,as these are not technically with a hilt to be held by a human hand) are apparently incorrect as far as attachment to the teeth also known as tusks on elephants in particular......I believe my observations to the nasal extension (?) known as a trunk (in elephants) having any sort of 'sword' (blade) attached still apply.
It is great to learn more on this topic with these zoological elucidations!
Seriously, thank you Wayne, very well noted.
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Old 26th November 2019, 11:53 AM   #135
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Elephants are either left- or right-tusked, and the dominant tusk is generally smaller because of wear and tear from frequent use.
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Old 26th November 2019, 11:55 AM   #136
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Elephants are either left- or right-tusked, and the dominant tusk is generally smaller because of wear and tear from frequent use.



I think if I were applying for a job as a mahout, I would have failed the entry application


With that, may I ask, are the rest of the elephants teeth also of ivory? or are teeth and tusks made of different biological material?

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Old 26th November 2019, 03:35 PM   #137
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I think there is differences in the 'tusk' teeth due to their continuing growth process, which is not seen in 'permanent' teeth. I'm guessing the root end of the 'tooth' would have the dentine, nerves, pulp and enamel like or own teeth.

Aha!, I was correct:
===============================================
The visible, ivory part of the elephant's tusk is made of dentine with an outer layer of enamel. Elephant ivory is unique which when viewed in cross-sections reveals criss-cross lines that form a series of diamond shapes (Schreger lines- see below). Elephants tusks never stop growing so some old bulls display enormous examples.
===============================================

One mammal that only grows only one toothy canine tusk is the Narwhal. It's ivory rapier can grow up to 9 feet (2.74 metres) long. It's spiralling tusk was frequently sold as a unicorn's horn in ancient times, thought to have magical powers. Didn't help the poor narwhal it came from in the end tho. They use them as clubs rather than spears, striking fish to stun them before eating them. They apparently are somewhat porous and the dentine has nerve endings which enable them to detect among other things, water salinity, Female pheromones, etc. males have a ritual get together where they clash their tusks together en-mass, but do not fight with them. Guess they are comparing the length of their toothy member rather like we compare other bits of our more visible anatomy (heir's is hidden in a sheath to cut down on water resistance ).
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:10 PM   #138
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I think it must be relatively save to say, that the tusk swords and the trunk swords were not used at the same time, or the elephant may have cut the trunk while wildly fighting.
Trunk swords would have been effective against foot soldiers, just like when the elephants had a chain in the trunk, but would tusk swords not have been more effective against riders/horses?
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:20 PM   #139
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Unlike humans, elephants change their teeth 6 times during their lives. Their teeth don’t grow upwards, like in humans, but horizontally. They start with the size of thumb nail.
When they grow old and find it difficult to chew hard food, they move to places with softer vegetation, such as swamps. Eventually they will die because of their weakness and will die near the water. This frequent ending is what originates the myths of elephant graveyards.
The fangs (tusks) of elephants are the incisors in the other mammals and appear as from the age of one year. The particularity of these is that they lack tooth enamel. When the fang pops out, it still has a small layer of enamel that will disappear with use, leaving a fang made basically of dentin.
Approximately 2/3 of the fang are visible and alive, this meaning that it has an inner cavity with pulp including blood vessels and nerves. This is why fangs are so sensitive to blows and force*. The last third of the fang is located in the lower part of the skulls.
When a fang breaks, it can cause serious complications to the elephant. In extreme cases the nerve, the pulp, is exposed and the animal dies due to suffering great pain.
* Something which doesn't concur with the idea of 'operational' tusk swords ...


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Old 26th November 2019, 04:21 PM   #140
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Nordelunde; Elly armour appears to at least partially cover the trunk, but leaves the working more flexible and controllable end free. Should protect him from self harm as well as from the enemy.
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:42 PM   #141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
Nordelunde; Elly armour appears to at least partially cover the trunk, but leaves the working more flexible and controllable end free. Should protect him from self harm as well as from the enemy.

Migrating the old saying: he (an elephant) may be an animal but he is not stupid. I would reject the idea that such inteligent and skilled animal would inadvertly cause self damage. It is all about protecting him from enemy's atempts to take him down.
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:42 PM   #142
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Yes I know the elephant armours, but the underside of the trunk was not protected.
Someone I knew in Denmark, had once bought an elephant armour in India - years ago, but it was confiscated by the Indians.
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:44 PM   #143
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCowQ6XLEB4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJSgB96Udo0

here we see an elly using it's dominant tusk to eat a tree! - Note the end is broken...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ0R01X6t5E

they seem to have no qualms about using their tusks fro digging, shredding trees, moving stuff, or using them as weapons. (more info on tusk interiors in this one too)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX8rE-d1Fxc

We now are all elephant experts!

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Old 26th November 2019, 04:45 PM   #144
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Yes I know the elephant armours, but the underside of the trunk was not protected.
Someone I knew in Denmark, had once bought an elephant armour in India - years ago, but it was confiscated by the Indians.

The armour in the picture doesn't have to be the real whole thing; more a parade version ?
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:59 PM   #145
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Yup, could have also had a sleeve of maille protecting the whole trunk - except the grasping bit, or even a hauberk and maille leggings and padded arming coat under the lamellar bits, for when things got more serious.
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Old 26th November 2019, 05:00 PM   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
... they seem to have no qualms about using their tusks fro digging, shredding trees, moving stuff, or using them as weapons...

Still they can have a determined degree of sensivity ... and eventually crack. Only that they know how to use them ... angle and all. As you showed, a significant part of their length is hollow ... and that counts.
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Old 26th November 2019, 05:32 PM   #147
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Very well responded gentlemen, as well as great descriptions and explanations. I will say that for me personally, my understanding of these factors in elephants as well as 'tusked' mammals has been greatly expanded.
If ever there was a case to illustrate the wide scope and diversity of studies and knowledge required to study arms and armor, this thread serves well.

The subject of the trunk swords still eludes me, and it would seem that the dental/tusk factor has been extremely well explained, while justifying or understanding the possible attachment of any bladed weapon to the trunk remains a baffling question for me.

It is well understood that the elephant is about the farthest thing from a brutish or dumb beast, and their intelligence is extolled constantly.

It seems that extra precautions were taken to ensure that male elephants would not be in situations in use during the musth period to ensure that their behavior would not become an issue. However, when in groups it would seem that the elephants' own herd characteristics would prevail outside any sort of conditioned training, regardless of gender.

In warfare this certainly was the case, and it seems that I had read somewhere that the use of elephants in actual combat was often avoided for this reason. Combat can result in insurmountable fear and reaction with any being animsl or human, and the sheer size of the elephant creates a terrible situation if they react adversely and unfortunately indiscriminately.

In my understanding, the elephant could essentially serve as a kind of 'tank' in knocking down enemy fortifications, but I do not see them being ridden into direct interaction of massed forces such as cavalry. Which brings me again to the case of the 'trunk sword'. Elephants of course would not wildly harm themselves with a bladed weapon, nor would they use this in the dexterous manner required of a sword obviously. Yes, they have used items in blunt force against threat or even perhaps as a tool in necessary action, and the strength of the tusk I think Fernando well illustrated.

However, I personally think the tusk 'swords' were an element 'worn' in parade or events to impress. While the tusks of course, would not need 'improvement' in their natural and instinctive use, but I believe that these were cut off while these animals were in captivity to avoid aggressive action from them. The 'swords' were in my view, a kind of cap, serving as an impressive addition to the armor. It would seem on maneuver in battle they might have been worn accordingly .

While heavy chains are described as placed on trunks, it seems they might have served in effect as a 'wrecking ball' against emplacements, but again I feel concerned that any adverse disturbance among elephants might have produced a threatening situation for all in their presence. Any sort of bladed weapon would equally have been a nightmare.

Most of the time it seems that accounts of battles and such events are embellished and or distorted to serve the intended effect of the material, and often far from the actuality of the details which actually occurred.
I think it is prudent to assume there is a degree of license involved as we use these sources to investigate subject matter in focus. That was the point I was trying to make earlier toward these descriptions.
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Old 26th November 2019, 06:31 PM   #148
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Still they can have a determined degree of sensivity ... and eventually crack. Only that they know how to use them ... angle and all. As you showed, a significant part of their length is hollow ... and that counts.

Having a second look to the video and watching others showing similar action, it looks as if they push each other with their foreheads ... and doing no use of the tusks. They are showing strength in such number, not atempting to perforate each other's bodies... right ?
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Old 26th November 2019, 06:38 PM   #149
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Default On a lighter note:

This is a great discussion, and while not wishing to digress, often when involved in heavy research or discussion, I wander a bit for comic relief, I think much as Wayne does with his brilliant humor.
If this might be indulged for a moment
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Old 26th November 2019, 07:27 PM   #150
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Default One thing is certain ...

It is utterly undeniable that elephants have been used in battle per tot saecula. There are zillions of comprehensive records, no matter more or less fantasy spiced by writers.
... No matter with or without accessory apparatuses, or just running over people, whether marching towards the enemy or going into panic and reverse their march towards their own. After all, early cannons were so unpredictable that they would often wind up blasting the shooters and all around, but still they used them.
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