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Roman mosaic showing elephant loaded onto ship

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman mosaic showing elephant loaded onto ship
Roman mosaic showing elephant loaded onto ship | On license Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Roman mosaic from Veii (now Isola Farnese in Italy) that shows an African elephant being loaded onto an antique ship. The object is dated from the 3rd-4th century CE and is now located in the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, Germany.

The mosaic was discovered in 1889. Veii in Roman times could act as warehouses where the imported wild animals were kept until they were shown in the arena.

It is worth mentioning the curiosity that Pliny left us about elephants. Namely, the animals frightened when they descended from the ship on the platform, realizing the distance between the land and the ship. The presented mosaic may in fact show not the process of bringing animals onto the ship but their bringing them ashore1. The animals going backwards did not panic, and the visible men on the left could additionally prevent them from returning to the ship.

  1. William Epplett, Animal spectacula of the Roman Empire

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