Should Ethiopians get war elephants?

There is some possible historical evidence for the Aksumites using elephants for war as well as symbols of power and prestige.

The Elephants of Aksum: In Search of the Bush Elephant in Late Antiquity
It is widely assumed by scholars that the Aksumite kingdom’s use of elephants was confined to a military context and, in particular, that the Aksumites deployed these animals principally as war engines. However, a critical inspection of the relevant Arab and Byzantine sources reveals that the Aksumites in fact were interested in elephants primarily as symbols of regal display and power. Furthermore, this article argues that it was the large bush elephant, rather than the smaller forest elephant, to which the Aksumites had access, and that this animal played a crucial role in their strategic self-positioning in the late antique ivory trade.

In light of this, I think the Ethiopian civilization (which is largely based on the Aksumites) should get elephant units like the Indian and Southeast Asian civilizations. In fact, I’d even go so far as to suggest that they should use the War Elephant unit currently used by the Persians as a second UU (since that elephant unit has large ears like the African elephant instead of the smaller ears of the Asian civilizations’ battle elephants). The Persian UU could instead be swapped to something else, perhaps similar to the Byzantine cataphract.

What do you guys think?

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What is the purpose of giving Ethiopians War elephants?

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Because it’s cool and has some possible (albeit uncertain) historical basis.

Maybe it could be a mod instead of an official dev update?

The Ethiopians of aoe 3 can have war elephants because of their alliances and trade agreements with the Indians, so why they could not have them in the 2 also?..

It could be a regional african unit, but Elephant warfare for africans is more an ancient history thing

It could be fun and makes sense since Africa has elephants of course, but african elephants are smaller, so a unique regional unit could be a weaker and cheaper variant of the Battle Elephant, but at that point It would probably serve the same purpose of a knight while being slower

Of course, I think it’s good… but we should give elephants to the Berbers as well (considering they are the successors of the Carthaginians)…

Not really Berbers are the successors of the Numidians.

What are you talking about? African elephant are far bigger as well as harder to tame…


LOL good luck trying to ride an African elephant!

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Moderno elephants are not the same as ancient elephants. Northern african elephants in ancient times were smaller than other elephants. I believe they are extinct now


As others have already said, the African bush/savannah elephants they’re talking about here are bigger. Longer tusked as well, and I think there may be a bigger difference between the sexes too. A ten ton fully grown African bush bull is the kind of animal that could take on the Jurassic Park T. rex and maybe even stand a chance. These elephants were also thought to be pretty much untameable for any practical purpose. But it wouldn’t be the first time an ancient civilization figured out something impressive of course.

What I think you may be thinking of is the elephants Hannibal used in his famous crossing of the Alpes. He has been speculated to have used a now extinct smaller Northern African subspecies of elephant (which may or may not have actually existed, the tangible evidence is kind of scarce for such a large animal), with only his prize bull, called “the Syrian”, being an imported Asian elephant.

I can’t access the full article here. They could have just used imported Asian elephants (figure 3 does seem to have rather small triangular ears), or this mysterious North African species, or maybe even forest elephants. If they did use actual bush elephants, those would have been some huge chonkers.

Edit: I had the editor open for too long, your previous post wasn’t here when I started this one. But glad to see you were thinking of what I thought you were thinking of.


Another Historical Justice Warrior.

Wikipedia is cool, but we’re dealing here with a video game, it doesnt have to be commited to reality in a perfect way. If you bother to make a suggestion at least justify your idea with some in-game logic.


Are you sure they were not already extinct in Medieval era?

no admittedly i’m not sure about that, but my idea was merely to give an ipotetical regional unit a different look and niche than just battle elephant since at that point a lot of civ would have those and AOE is not famous for is accuracy anyway, but yeah, if they were exctinct or totally out of sense then of course not lol

I know there’s the belief that North African civilizations used forest elephants or an extinct North African species that was smaller than the African savanna elephant, but this seems to be founded on a description of the Battle of Raphia (in which Ptolemaic African elephants went up against Seleucid Asian elephants) that may not be accurate.

Proving Polybius wrong about elephants

As every school child knows, Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants. So why did Polybius get this wrong? One British writer, perhaps unconsciously affected by the corporal punishments meted out by Classics teachers to disruptive students at English schools, decided that Polybius must after all be correct. He pointed out that, although African savanna elephants are larger than Asian elephants, there is a different species of elephant that lives in the tropical forests of Africa, and which is smaller in size than the Asian elephant. Thus began the tale that the war elephants of the pharaohs were actually African forest elephants, ignoring the thousands of kilometers that separate the range of forest elephants from places where the Egyptians captured their war elephants. This tale was then perpetuated by subsequent authors, each citing authors before as definitive sources.

In a recent conservation genetics study, we examined the elephants of Eritrea, the descendants of the population that was the source of Egyptian war elephants. Eritrea currently has the northernmost population of elephants in eastern Africa. Perhaps one or two hundred elephants persist there, in isolated and fragmented habitat. Using DNA isolated from non-invasively collected dung samples we examined three different genetic markers. First we looked at slow-evolving nuclear gene sequences in the Eritrean elephants. In every case the sites always had the same sequence found in hundreds of savanna elephants, and in no case did we ever get a match to sequences found across all forest elephants. This established that Eritrean elephants were savanna elephants.

When we then looked at very fast evolving regions of the nuclear genome, the Eritrean elephants proved to be a close match to savanna elephants in East Africa, and again were genetically unlike forest elephants. Finally, we looked at mitochondrial DNA, which often has a different pattern than other genetic markers in elephants. Mitochondrial DNA is transmitted only by females, and these females do not geographically disperse away from the natal heard. Very often, one can infer a signal of ancient genetic events that persist only in the pattern of the mitochondrial DNA. Yet in this case, the mitochondrial DNA agreed with the nuclear results: these were savanna elephants, and there was not the slightest trace of any ancient forest elephant presence in Eritrea.

Given this result, why did Polybius claim that the Asian elephants were larger than African elephants? It turns out that in the ancient world there was a legend that, due to the wet climate, animals were always larger in India than they were elsewhere. This legend was widespread among authors before and after Polybius. Go back and look at the way the translation of the Polybius text is worded. Even in translation, it is evident that Polybius has interjecting his own beliefs onto the account, and not recounting an actual observation.

Now, admittedly, it could be argued that the elephants living in Eritrea today may not have necessarily been the same population as the ones that the Ptolemies would have captured. But, on the other hand, I don’t think any hard evidence has been found for forest elephants or (a distinct North African species) ever living in the region or anywhere else in northern Africa. The forest elephant idea seems particularly unlikely to me anyway since African forest elephants are specially adapted to the humid rainforest environments of West and Central Africa, whereas savanna elephants are the ones adapted to drier and more open habitats. So I think it more likely that Polybius got his facts wrong and that the elephants used in ancient North Africa were the larger African savanna elephants.


Ah ok, yes I thought they could be the descendants of the Carthaginians, but true that the Numidians and Berbers are further west than Carthage was…

No,they became extinct in 100 CE (the Romans captured the last remaining specimens and made them participate in the shows of the Colosseum)…

North African elephant - Wikipedia

Thanks, I suspected something like that. So it’s possible the Persian elephant would be more accurate, though the few Aksoumite war elephants we’ve heard about may have been Asian elephants brought from India or Persia…

Ethiopians getting Battle Elephants could be cool.
Honestly I think the decision on whether to grant them non-elite BE or EA should be based entirely on historical accuracy. It’s flavour which doesn’t impact gameplay much.
I’m not an expert on History, and I think it’d be ideal if the devs paid an actual historian for their expertise. (In this matter as well as in some other matters.)

Even giving them EBE probably wouldn’t be a problem.

War Elephants however are a balancing disaster. If anything they should be removed from the game. Not given to Ethiopians.

I think maybe they should also have access to siege and armor battle elephants, considering one of the most famous instances of Ethiopians using elephants was when they attacked the city of Mecca to destroy the Kaaba. I’m not sure how it would affect balance, though, especially with the Ethiopians having access to the Torsion Engines UT.