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Roman mosaic showing scene of elephant being brought aboard ship

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman mosaic depicting the scene of an elephant being boarded or unloaded
Roman mosaic showing scene of elephant being brought aboard ship

Roman mosaic depicting the scene of an elephant being brought aboard a ship. According to researchers, the scene could take place in Egypt, near the port of Alexandria, from where numerous exotic animals were transported to Italy.

In the visible mosaic, we see four men trying to bring a reluctant animal aboard the ship. Interestingly, the elephant’s tusks have been secured with some kind of covers to avoid major injuries.

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.

It is located in the Roman villa Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily.

  1. William Epplett, Animal spectacula of the Roman Empire
  • Pliny the Elder, Natural history, VIII.3

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