This book is dedicated to the one of the most interesting themes in the art of warfare in Ancient World — the history of war elephants, "tanks" of the Antiquity. The main idea of this research is the most correct and full reconstruction of the history and the role of war elephants on the battlefields and in wars of the Hellenistic and the Roman times, from Alexander the Great to the Sassanid epoch.

The main stages of evolution of the use of elephants in the ancient warfare base on the literary tradition of the Antiquity and Ancient East, on numismatic and other sources of material culture.

The first Greeks who wrote about elephants were the logographs. Ctesias and Aristotle formed the opinion about these beasts among Hellenes of the Classical time. However, Alexander, king of Macedonia (336323 BC), was the first ruler to have war elephants in his army. After Darius’ defeat at Gaugamela (331 BC) several beasts became the trophy of the great Macedonian ruler. Alexander used elephants in his Indian campaign but only for carrying the baggage and other heavy things such as some parts of his fleet.

In the Battle of the Hydaspes River in 326 BC Alexander won the victory over Hindu king Porus who used many war elephants against Macedonian army in this struggle. According to these circumstances, it went down in the Alexander’s history as "The Battle with Elephants" and it was the last general battle in the Eastern Campaign of the great king. It was the first struggle in which the Greeks and the Macedonians sew war elephants and had to use special tactic against them.

In his own army Alexander didn’t use these animals on battlefields. The elephants demonstrated the power of the ruler in Babylon, took part in the Alexander’s burial ceremony in 323 BC, saw the decline and dissolution of his Empire.

After Alexander’s death began the war between the Diadochi in which elephants were playing one of the main roles on the battlefields. In this period have turrets (towers) appeared on these beasts, little castles with several warriors with Macedonian or Greek equipment.

Perdiccas used these animals in the campaign against Ptolemy’s Egypt (321 BC). When he was killed, they became the trophy of Antigonus the One-eyed and Antipater.

Antigonus took elephants with his army to attack and defeat Eumenes and Alcetas (320 BC). The first struggles in which both of the Macedonian armies used these beasts were the Battles in Paraetacene (317 BC) and in Gabiene (316 BC) between Antigonus and Eumenes. Previously, Eumenes had 125 elephants from Indian satrap Eudamos and then many of them became the trophy of Antigonus. After Eumenes’ death the last one had the largest elephant corps in the Hellenistic East.

Antipater took these beasts to Greece and they are considered the first of that kind of animals appeared in Europe (320 BC). In 318 BC Polyperchon attacked Megalopolis by war elephants but was defeated. In 317 BC Cassander captured Polyperchon’s elephants. Then Olympias took them and fled to Pydna. Cassander besieged this city and all of the animals in the city died during the siege (317316 BC).

In 312 BC Demetrius, the son of Antigonus One-Eyed, used war elephants in the Battle of Gaza against the Egyptian army. Later, in 306 BC, Antigonus took many of these beasts with his army in the campaign against Egypt. But he failed in his attempts to defeat Ptolemy.

In 305 BC Seleucus received from Hindu king Chandragupta Mauria 500 elephants (ceded the the Indus’ valley to him). Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, Cassander formed an alliance against Antigonus. In 301 BC in the Battle of Ipsus (Asia Minor) the army of Lysimachus and Seleucus defeated Antigonus and his son Demetrius the Besieger. The war elephants of Seleucus played the major role in this struggle which terrified the houses of the Demetrius’ cavalry. Antigonus was killed and this struggle was the greatest elephants’ battle of Antiquity. The last battle in the history of the Diadochi was between Lysimachus and Seleucus in 281 BC. Probably in this struggle both of these commanders used these beasts. The same year Seleucus was killed by Ptolemy the Thunderbolt who became a new Macedonian king. Many elephants brought by Seleucus to Europe were seized by the new ruler.

In 280 BC Pyrrhus received from Ptolemy the Thunderbolt war elephants and ferried them to Italy where he wanted to help Tarentus against the romans. In the Battles of Her-aclea (280 BC) and of Asculum (279 BC) Pyrrhus used elephants against the Roman army. In 278–276 BC Pyrrhus’ elephants were fighting with the Carthaginians in Sicily. Some of them were captured by the Romans in 275 BC in the Battle of Beneventum. Pyrrhus was the first who acquainted the Romans and the Carthaginians with these beasts and showed their power.

Seleucids all over their history had war elephants in the army and placed the corps of these beasts in Apamea. There were Indian elephants in the Syrian forces. After the Galatians’ invasion in Asia Minor in 276 BC Antiochus I defeated them with the help of 16 war elephants in the battle in Phrygia. In 217 BC in the Battle of Raphia Antiochus III defeated African beasts of Ptolemy IV by his Indian elephants but he didn’t win the victory in the struggle. After Antiochus’ Eastern campaign he received from Bactria and India 150 animals. In 190 BC in the Battle of Magnesia his giants were fighting against the Romans and according to the treaty in Apamea he was prohibited to keep war elephants. Antiochus’ successors still had the Syrian army these animals. Antiochus IV showed two chariots with elephants on the parade in Daphna (166 BC). Antioch V and Demetrius II possessed these animals.

In the reign of Ptolemy Lagus Egypt never produced elephants for military purposes but during the reign of Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III the elephants’ industry was arranged. Many of them were caught in the Central Africa and were brought to Alexandria. Some of these animals were captured during the wars between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. Only after the Battle of Raphia, where African animals were defeated by Indian beasts of Syrian rulers, the Ptolemies stopped to be interested in the African elephants’ producing.

Greco-Bactrian kings (III–II centuries BC) and their successors in Indo-Greek kingdoms (II–I centuries BC) had the corps of war elephants. Euthydemus I and his son Demetrius I utilized these animals in their forces. Later their successor Indo-Greek ruler Menander I had a special corps of them. One of the most important sources for the reconstruction of the Hellenistic war elephant’s look is the falar from the collection of Peter the Great from the Hermitage might have been made in Greco-Bactria.

During the Punic Wars war elephants played a very important role on the battlefields. The Carthaginians and the Romans during this period used African beasts.

In the course of the First Punic War (264241 BC) the Carthaginians utilized these animals against the Romans in Sicily and in the Battle of Tunis (256 BC). Afterwards these animals were employed in the Carthaginian army during the Mercenary War and the conquering of Spain. Hannibal began the Second Punic war (218–201 BC) with these beasts in his forces. He used war elephants against the Romans near Capua, in the Battles of Canusia and of Zama. In the end of this war Hasdrubal and Mago utilized these animals in Northern Italy. After the Carthaginians’ defeat they were forced to own these beasts anymore.

Subsequently, the Numidians and the Romans used war elephants nearly 150 years. Romans’ war elephants crushed Roman enemies in Macedonian Wars in the Battles of Cynocephalus (197 BC) and of Pydna (148 BC), in Spain, in Africa against of Carthaginians in the Third Punic War (149146 BC) and in Gallia against the Allobroges and the Arvernes.

The latest episodes of usage of these animals in the Roman military history: the Battle of Thapsus (46 BC) where Numidian elephants were in the Pompeian’s army and were fighting against Caesar’s legions and the Caesar’s campaign in Britain.

During the epoch of the Empire Romans used elephants for fun in the circus, fin construction works and for triumphs but not on the battlefields. These giants could have destroyed right Romans’ tactic. As a result, the Romans stopped employing elephants in the military science.

In the Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages these animals appeared in the Sassanid army. Persian kings used them from the 3rd century against the Romans, then against the Armenians and the Arabs on the battlefields, for besieging of the Romans’ castles and cities, for carrying baggage and harem, for hunting. Dramatic events of besieges of Nisibis (350 AD), of Amida (359 AD), of Edessa (551 AD), of Archeopolis (552 AD), of Phasis (555 AD), of the Battle in Maranga and Julian’s death (363 AD) were connected with the Persian war elephants.