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===[TASK]=== Kushite Elephant Stable

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A few requests:

  • Realistically small wooden fences won't hold an elephant. Thick iron chains would be far more realistic and historically accurate.
  • The empty courtyard in front serves no purpose and could be removed.
  • It would be great if the width is doubled to accommodate five elephant sheds.

All of the above also applies to all existing elephant stables in the public game. Maybe something for a future task?

As for the entity concept, elephant stables did exist in India, though they tended to be much larger. The Ptolemies are known to have kept their elephants on islands in the Nile Delta or artificial islets surrounded by broad moats, not unlike modern zoos. However, 0 A.D. is a game and some generalizations are necessary.

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2 hours ago, Nescio said:

Realistically small wooden fences won't hold an elephant. Thick iron chains would be far more realistic and historically accurate.

I read that elephant were trained very young with little ropes, so even when adult they were absolutely convinced they could not break it. Might be just a management scam though.

2 hours ago, Nescio said:

It would be great if the width is doubled to accommodate five elephant sheds.

Why 5 specifically ?

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2 hours ago, Nescio said:
  • Realistically small wooden fences won't hold an elephant. Thick iron chains would be far more realistic and historically accurate.

Actually wood is an excellent material for elephant fences

Spoiler

wooden-cage-at-elephant.jpgkonni_an_elephant_training_centre_in_pathanamthitta20131031105654_362_1.jpg

 

2B657B5C00000578-3199391-At_the_Karnataka_training_camp_one_captured_wild_elephant_is_kep-a-4_1439726438642.jpg

Kolm_rden_6.jpg

stock-photo-a-baby-elephant-peeks-out-in-between-the-wooden-fence-in-an-elephant-preservation-camp-1104294755.jpg

elephanteau-de-4-mois.jpg

(although I'm not saying that iron chains are necessarily bad either)

 

1 minute ago, Stan` said:

I read that elephant were trained very young with little ropes, so even when adult they were absolutely convinced they could not break it.

This is true even for dogs... I can tie my first dog which I had since he was a little puppy, on a long rope with no problems whatsoever. He never even tries to fight it. When it's time for him to be tied on the rope, he'll go to the rope by himself, and wait there for me to tie it. He's very comfortable with it. My other dog could not be kept on a rope, full stop. He would fight it with a vigorous passion, and always managed to chew through it within a few minutes of me not looking. He was totally un-confinable and insisted on following me everywhere, even if I told him to stay. I got him at an older age, and he had never learnt to "respect the rope". He was so stubborn and independent! An adventurous little soul... :LOL: But very loyal and so sweet... 

 

2 hours ago, Nescio said:
  • The empty courtyard in front serves no purpose and could be removed.

Personally I like the open courtyard feeling, but I think it's more a matter of a personal taste. 

 

2 hours ago, Nescio said:

As for the entity concept, elephant stables did exist in India, though they tended to be much larger. The Ptolemies are known to have kept their elephants on islands in the Nile Delta or artificial islets surrounded by broad moats, not unlike modern zoos. However, 0 A.D. is a game and some generalizations are necessary.

Some academics maintain that Musawwarat es Sufra was used among other things to house elephants (it has very large stone walled courtyards or "pens" and a way larger water supply infrastructure than humans alone could possibly need) . Other academics reject the idea. Although I've read academic critiques of the use of Musawwarat for elephants, and some of the main critiques are not actually legitimate. That said, the theory behind Musawwarat as an elephant training centre is pretty circumstantial, so, who knows... There are also a number of enormous circular dry stone walled structures identified from the Napato-Meroitic Period, who's use is not understood. They're associated with nearby seasonal water flows, and believed by some to have been giant cattle pens. Perhaps something similar was used for elephants? I dunno... But you're right, "0 A.D. is a game and some generalizations are necessary".

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35 minutes ago, Stan` said:

I read that elephant were trained very young with little ropes, so even when adult they were absolutely convinced they could not break it. Might be just a management scam though.

War elephants tended to be male, which were significantly larger and more aggressive. Moreover, male elephants are periodically affected by a condition called musth, during which they attack both humans and other elephants. The Indian solution is chaining them to a very strong tree and starving them for days, until they'r placate again. (Denying food and water is unacceptable nowadays in modern Western zoos, due to animal welfare concerns, therefore they're instead isolated and placed in very strong enclosures for weeks or months.)

35 minutes ago, Stan` said:

Why 5 specifically ?

Because it's the first prime number greater than 3. :) No, seriously, actually because the golden ratio is far more natural, and can be approximated by the Fibonacci numbers, i.e. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.

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8 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

Actually wood is an excellent material for elephant fences

  Reveal hidden contents

wooden-cage-at-elephant.jpgkonni_an_elephant_training_centre_in_pathanamthitta20131031105654_362_1.jpg

 

2B657B5C00000578-3199391-At_the_Karnataka_training_camp_one_captured_wild_elephant_is_kep-a-4_1439726438642.jpg

Kolm_rden_6.jpg

stock-photo-a-baby-elephant-peeks-out-in-between-the-wooden-fence-in-an-elephant-preservation-camp-1104294755.jpg

elephanteau-de-4-mois.jpg

(although I'm not saying that iron chains are necessarily bad either)

India is not really my cup of tea. I'm not sure of the exact situation under the Mauryas, though I know elephants were chained in later times, including in the present. (There are multiple photographs available on Wikimedia Commons.)

18 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

Personally I like the open courtyard feeling, but I think it's more a matter of a personal taste. 

In 0 A.D. the increased footprint means the structure can be destroyed by units attacking the ground in front, which is rather unrealistic. But yeah, it's a matter of taste.

19 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

Some academics maintain that Musawwarat es Sufra was used among other things to house elephants (it has very large stone walled courtyards or "pens" and a way larger water supply infrastructure than humans alone could possibly need) . Other academics reject the idea. Although I've read academic critiques of the use of Musawwarat for elephants, and some of the main critiques are not actually legitimate. That said, the theory behind Musawwarat as an elephant training centre is pretty circumstantial, so, who knows... There are also a number of enormous circular dry stone walled structures identified from the Napato-Meroitic Period, who's use is not understood. They're associated with nearby seasonal water flows, and believed by some to have been giant cattle pens. Perhaps something similar was used for elephants? I dunno... But you're right, "0 A.D. is a game and some generalizations are necessary".

Very interesting! Any articles you recommend to start with?

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So, should I make changes to the Elephant Stables, or is the model good to go?

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52 minutes ago, Nescio said:

Very interesting! Any articles you recommend to start with?

The main origin of the theory behind Musawwarat es Sufra as an elephant training centre comes from Peter L. Shinnie's book "Meroe - A Civilization of the Sudan" (1967). I haven't read it myself actually, but it's available:

https://www.amazon.com/Meroe-Civilization-Ancient-Peoples-Places/dp/B0006BOLD0

 

Here's a good introduction about Musawwarat which touches on the question of elephants but doesn't go into any real depth on the specifics:

https://issuu.com/sudarchrs/docs/s_n05-wenig

 

For the moment I can't find the main critique of the theory. I'll have to look for that again. But I remember that one of the main arguments was that the causeways were too narrow for elephants, which simply isn't true. Those causeways are more than 2,5 meters wide... Especially not an issue if they were the smaller North African type of elephant. And the Meroitic depictions of elephants indeed indicate that they used small elephants. I think they even said that the ramps were too steep, which makes even less sense, because they're not steep at all. 

That having said, the main purpose of the enclosure was undoubtedly ritual/religious/royal.

In fact, I don't even think large numbers of elephants were necessarily ever kept inside the enclosure itself, for any lengthy period of time. Maybe just during ritual processions or something? If you look at the geography surrounding Musawwarat es Sufra, you'll see a large number flat bottomed gorges and ravines, or better said, level ground surrounded by irregular and steep plateaus that offer ample opportunities to keep herds of elephants confined with little effort. And I can't get passed the huge water reservoirs. They're really huge. One is 100 meters in diameter and the other is a whopping 260 meters in diameter and was more than 10 meters deep (the largest one known from ancient Kush). What did they need those for? And why two? In a place with very little human occupation? There were actually some planted courtyards in the complex, but even if they irrigated the entire valley (for which there is no evidence", the main reservoir is way to big. They're bigger than the ones that supplied Meroë and Naqa...

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On 7/21/2020 at 3:37 PM, Sundiata said:

Here's a good introduction about Musawwarat which touches on the question of elephants but doesn't go into any real depth on the specifics:

https://issuu.com/sudarchrs/docs/s_n05-wenig

Thanks, I just read it, it's a really detailed quality overview of the site.

From what I gather, the only thing in support as a elephant corps site is the numerous depictions of elephants. However, there are also numerous depictions of horses, camels, rams, lions, antelope, and other animals, as well as humans and deities. Besides, while Shinnie proposed this theory in his 1967 book, he no longer endorses it in his 1991 publication.

In contast, the evidence (and scholarly consensus) seems to be pointing towards a palace complex and seasonal residence for hunting expeditions.

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1 hour ago, Nescio said:

From what I gather, the only thing in support as a elephant corps site is the numerous depictions of elephants. However, there are also numerous depictions of horses, camels, rams, lions, antelope, and other animals, as well as humans and deities.

Actually one of the arguments isn't just the depiction of elephants, which together with lions, are the most numerous, but because of the depiction of war-elephants on the lion-temple of Apedemak, at Musawwarat es Sufra, next to the main enclosure:

Elephants of Musawwarat cloth blanket ruler standing on their back leading bound prisoners tied captives kingdom of kush kushite.jpg

A supersized god is seen standing on their back. Perhaps Apedemak, strongly associated with war, among other things. 

Musawwarat es Sufra war Elephant Kush Kushite Nubia Sudan Elephants of Aborepi.jpg

Other lion temples don't have preserved depictions of war elephants. 

 

1 hour ago, Nescio said:

Besides, while Shinnie proposed this theory in his 1967 book, he no longer endorses it in his 1991 publication.

In contast, the evidence (and scholarly consensus) seems to be pointing towards a palace complex and seasonal residence for hunting expeditions.

Actually the consensus is that it's a temple complex. It has what looks like very atypical palatial buildings, but those are secondary structures and their exact use is still debated. The main structures are temples. I have written quite often about Musawwarat es Sufra before on this forum, and have always mentioned these among the possibilities. From the opening post in the main thread:

Quote

Musawwarat es Sufra:

Musawwarat es-Sufra was a large temple complex and cult center in the Western Butana, 20km from Naqa. It doesn't quite resemble anything found in the Nile Valley so far. In fact it is not even built by the Nile, but lies 35km to the east of it, in the Wadi es-Sufra, a seasonal river that turns into a rapid stream during the yearly rains. The complex features temples, courtyards, fruit-gardens, water-reservoirs, workshops, kitchens, store-rooms, possible royal residences and long walled corridors, perhaps separating royals pilgrims from commoners, as well as a smaller secular enclosure. The Kushites themselves called this place "Aborepi" (place of the elephant), in Meroitic. Depictions of elephants and other animals are common theme in the reliefs of Musawwarat.

The earliest known structure from Musawwarat is the Great Hafir, a massive water reservoir built to capture surface runoff from the Wadi es-Sufra's seasonal water-flow. With a diameter of 250 meters and walls reaching 11- 12 meters, it is the largest hafir known in Sudan, and seems to have been built during the Napatan Period between the 6th and the 4th centuries BCE. It's sheer scale is somewhat of an enigma, considering the apparent absence of any significant settlement outside of the Small Enclosure dating to the Meroitic period. The absence of Meroitic graves in the valley also indicate that burial at this site was not allowed.

Most of the current ruins found at Musawwarat (the Great Enclosure and the Lion Temple) date to the Meroitic period, and were built during the third century BCE. Parts of the Great Enclosure do overlay older Napatan ruins.

The specific function of this site has been a greatly contested subject. Many theories exist, including:

  • A royal hunting abode, the large courtyards supposedly being used to house wild animals. 
  • An elephant training center, because of it's layout of large courtyards (holding pens?) and ramps, and a significant amount elephant depictions found here, and the fact that Greek/Ptolemaic expeditions "sometimes numbering hundreds of men", came to this area [Island of Meroë] specifically to acquire war elephants during the 3rd century BCE. 
  • A royal palace, because of the idea that at least some of these structures were (non-permanent) royal residences, thought to feature a throne room. 
  • Or simply as a large cult center, hosting major religious festivals drawing in countless people and royals on regular basis.

 

My conclusion is that it was probably a bit of all of the above (multipurpose complexes are common in Kush). The evidence for keeping game animals or it's use as a centre for hunting expeditions are just as circumstantial as the other theories, by the way. There are no written accounts of it, and there are no hunting scenes (although hunting scenes are known from Kushite art from other places). Though, there is a scene where a royal carries a dead hare, which does indeed indicate some hunting, but there are also scenes of cattle, and crude graffito of armed people and an execution/killing scene. It's also home to the largest collection of graffito in the Nile Valley, which strongly points to its use as a pilgrimage site. The royal city of Naqa is actually less than 20km to the south of Musawwarat, and Wad Ben Naqa, on the Nile, was merely 25km to the north west... There is also evidence for planted gardens in at least one of the courtyards, and there are even subterranean water pipes, one leading from the great hafir tot he main enclosure. 

Returning to the scene of the war-elephants, it must be noted, that from the archaeological record, it is clear that although reliefs in general have a symbolic meaning, they are usually based on real scenes. Everything from attire to props and architecture and even specific events commemorated in relief-scenes have parallels in the archaeological record, which leads me to the tentative conclusion that if war-elephants were depicted in a procession-like scene at Musawwarat es Sufra, they more than likely, actually depict a more or less realistic scene of an elephant procession that took place there at some point (victorious army returning? inauguration of the temple?). 

On a side note, the symbolism of the supersized god standing on the backs of the elephants at Musawwarat can be paralleled to the wood carving of a supersized King seated on the back of an elephant (with a saddle-like contraption on its back), from one of the tombs in Meroë:

Kingdom of kush Kushite wood royal seated on elephant throne.jpg

Which in itself is also comparable to the lion shaped thrones that are more common. 

Anyway, I'm not saying that there is irrefutable evidence that Musawwarat was an elephant training centre. But there is clear evidence that elephants were a central focus of whatever activity was taking place there, and that in all likelihood, war elephants passed through Musawwarat, and may have been kept there as well.

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20 hours ago, Sundiata said:

Actually the consensus is that it's a temple complex. It has what looks like very atypical palatial buildings, but those are secondary structures and their exact use is still debated. The main structures are temples.

To be clear, I was referring to what I read in the article you linked above, especially:

Spoiler

On page 77:

77.png.164af400be43f1d5da5f310cdefd61c4.png

and on page 81:

81.png.bd44f50de8703e7b228f1a7bc6969c04.png

Whether it was a temple complex containing royal residential space or a palace complex containing temples is not really important, the site clearly had both cultic significance and royal importance. Nicely summarized:

Spoiler

on page 86:

86.thumb.png.1e34a3b4bfcdfa697aeabe63984f4303.png

What matters for the discussion here is that Musawwarat es Sufra was not basically an elephant stable. :)

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9 minutes ago, Nescio said:

To be clear, I was referring to what I read in the article you linked above, especially:

Well, I think you should have read the whole article before posting: "In contrast, the evidence (and scholarly consensus) seems to be pointing towards a palace complex and seasonal residence for hunting expeditions.". Because that's not what the consensus is, not even according to that article. It was just running down the list of proposed hypothesis without intending to make any absolute statements. The consensus is that it's a temple complex with probably more than one purpose. Every Kushite temple complex is associated with palaces, but even here, none of the structures at Musawwarat are even remotely typical compared to other examples of palatial architecture (which are otherwise all very typical). What we can gather from some of the graffito is that the royal or palatial sections were probably used ritually, as a cultic place, not like a typical palace. 

 

26 minutes ago, Nescio said:

Whether it was a temple complex containing royal residential space or a palace complex containing temples is not really important, the site clearly had both cultic significance and royal importance. Nicely summarized:

27 minutes ago, Nescio said:

What matters for the discussion here is that Musawwarat es Sufra was not basically an elephant stable. :)

You need to re-read the section that you posted of the article, which I linked for a reason. Nobody ever said that it was "basically an elephant stable". But you seem to be overlooking a section from your own screenshot. Klaus Dornisch and the writers of article explicitly state the possibility that it was a centre where Mediterranean traders could acquire exotic animals including elephants. They referred to the thought as "tempting" and requiring consideration. Not dismissal. It's right there in the screenshot you took. 

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1 hour ago, Sundiata said:

Well, I think you should have read the whole article before posting:

Although I admit I was primarily looking for elephants, I did read the entire article. In it, the author (Steffen Wenig) discusses the evolution of various interpretations of Musawwarat es-Sufra:

  1. Hintze (page 72 to 74): a centre of pilgrimage.
  2. Shinnie (page 74 to 75): an elephant-taming facility.
  3. Adams (page 75): cannot be determined.
  4. Lenoble (page 75 to 76): royal palace with enclosure for wild animals for (ritual) hunting.
  5. Török (page 76 to 85): primarily a palace complex (with which the author has reservations). This view is being accepted by others: “Already this hypothesis ... a communis opinion” (which the author is challenging in this article).
  6. Dornisch (page 86, first paragraph): a multifunctional site, associated with long distance trade networks.

Then the author's conclusion (page 86):

Let us recapitulate. There can be no doubt as to the Great Enclosure as a complex of sacred purpose, complemented with palace, magazine and workshops, and of the central temple as a cultic installation.

[...]

I think it is highly likely that the Great Enclosure of Musawwarat es-Sufra was not a mere centre of pilgrimage, but a Kushite cult-place of the highest rank. The religious festivals [...] were attended by numerous pilgrims from all over the country and also by the Court.

Afterwards there is a appendix by Dieter Eigner (page 86 to 88).

1 hour ago, Sundiata said:

Nobody ever said that it was "basically an elephant stable".

When I wrote “not basically an elephant stable” I was referring to Shinnie's hypothesis and replying to:

On 7/21/2020 at 3:37 PM, Sundiata said:

The main origin of the theory behind Musawwarat es Sufra as an elephant training centre comes from Peter L. Shinnie's book "Meroe - A Civilization of the Sudan" (1967). I haven't read it myself actually, but it's available:

https://www.amazon.com/Meroe-Civilization-Ancient-Peoples-Places/dp/B0006BOLD0

For the moment I can't find the main critique of the theory. I'll have to look for that again. But I remember that one of the main arguments was that the causeways were too narrow for elephants, which simply isn't true.

And I'm aware you're not saying that it was:

On 7/21/2020 at 3:37 PM, Sundiata said:

That having said, the main purpose of the enclosure was undoubtedly ritual/religious/royal.

In my previous (now three) posts I'm merely trying to point out that MeS, while fascinating, is not useful as a reference for Kushite elephant stable art for 0 A.D. (which is the purpose of this forum thread).

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@Nescio, sorry if I come over as a little direct sometimes. The question is complex so I try to go straight to point, and I genuinely make effort to add all the necessary nuances, so as not to mislead people. I want to point out that I always enjoy our exchanges, even if it's not necessarily evident. You ask tough questions, which often make me dig deeper, which is really good, because I always discover new things while reading and researching. (And I've learnt quite a bit from many of your posts as well). Of course we don't always agree on things, but that's just fine. Just thought I should mention this because I realize that I sometimes come over a little blunt in our engagements.

 

On 7/24/2020 at 10:04 AM, Nescio said:

In my previous (now three) posts I'm merely trying to point out that MeS, while fascinating, is not useful as a reference for Kushite elephant stable art for 0 A.D. (which is the purpose of this forum thread).

The problem is that it's really not that simple. As I said, it's a complex question and Musawwarat es Sufra is of a substantial size, and relatively well preserved, which means there's a lot to say about it. 

There are at least 2 more points that are relevant that I haven't brought up in this discussion yet. 

1) Elephants are not just richly depicted at Musawwarat. Musawwarat es Sufra contains the largest collection of depictions of elephants anywhere in the entire Nile region! And these depictions are located in very prominent places in and around the temple complex. There is no other place, neither in Egypt, nor in Sudan, that contains so many depictions of elephants dating to Antiquity. I think that's very difficult to ignore. Especially considering that these depictions include war elephants. 

2) The second point is more complex. Who were the temples in the Great Enclosure dedicated to? It's not clear. But, Musawwarat, including those temples is also home to the largest number of depictions of the gods Arensnuphis and Sebiumeker, again in prominent locations. Especially Arensnuphis Sebiumeker is of interest here. And one depiction in particular:

Kingdom of Kush Kushite mounted elephant and god Arensnuphis from Musawwarat African riding Nubia.jpg

That is also from Musawwarat es Sufra. So it's very possible that at least one of the temples was dedicated to a god that was actually, explicitly associated with the image of elephant riding...

Context (relief on a column drum):

The kingdom of Kush kushite relief cut stone wall carving Sudan Richard Lepsius aethiopen aethiopien denkmaeler Musawwarat es Sufra decorated column gods pet elephants lion devouring enemy apedemak amun.jpg

In the upper panel, third from the left, the god Amun is holding an elephant by a leash. I don't know how much more explicit it needs to get... This is the only site I'm aware of where Amun is associated with an elephant... Of course it's also the only site I'm aware of where Arensnuphis is associated with an elephant. Clearly, elephants are the common denominator here. And of course, there are many fantastical panels, including one of the lion god, Apedemak, riding a lion (Kushite humor is on point), but once again, we know that lions were actually captured and/or bred and exported, alive, to Egypt since the New Kingdom at least, possibly earlier. There are actually several other large scenes where lions are held on a leash as well. And the Ptolemies and Romans had a taste for exotic animals as well. Animals that were becoming increasingly rare north of Sudan. 

On a tangential note, there's a long tradition in the region of keeping lions, from Ancient Egypt, to Kush, up to Imperial Ethiopia (even the "fantastical" "riding" of lions is not unheard of!):

Spoiler

Imperial Ethiopia:

D7pKhRsW4AAnP-c.jpg

Haile Selassie's pet lions Ethiopia Abyssinia Africa trained on leash chain pre-colonial.jpg

12088364_10208540347771944_397958922065303307_n.jpg

BG9xmvKCcAAo1xy.jpg

4c640ab2e0132e71a232594ad4f3f9ba-1.jpg

420e32406538add1f13864f84e988d5c.jpg

Haile Selassie Lion palace.jpg

 

Lions on leashes from Musawwarat es Sufra:

Apedemak walking a lion by a leash, lion temple musawwarat.jpg

Lion relief in lion temple at musawwarat.jpg

Kingdom of Kush Kushite Temple 300 in musawwarat es Sufra.jpg

 

Close up:

Musawwarat es Sufra temple 300 front closer sudan nubia butana kingdom of Kush Kushite meroitic period ruins.jpg

 

This isn't just about hunting... Or religion. This was probably a place where both lions and elephants were kept, and maybe traded.

Similar to the elephants (Aksumites actually also used war elephants), these smaller lions are a different breed from the ones we're used to seeing in nature documentaries of the Serengeti. I strongly suspect that they are more "docile" by nature. Either way, the point is that lions on leashes shouldn't be seen as fantastical. Neither should the leashed elephant be dismissed. 

Note the central upper scene, where a royal lady or female deity is standing on a platform supported by an elephant. It just emphasizes the importance of elephants at this site.

The kingdom of Kush kushite relief cut stone wall carving Sudan Richard Lepsius aethiopen aethiopien denkmaeler musawwarat es sufra decorated column apedemak amun sphynxes elephant.jpg

Parallel to the depiction of the war elephants in the lion temple, just outside the Great Enclosure, where a god is standing on the back of 2 elephants. Can also be compared to the "elephant throne" from the woodwork from Meroë that I shared in one of the previous posts, as well as another relief of a miniature elephant from Meroë standing between the feet of a king. The symbolism seems apparent. Victory, or glory, or divine favor was delivered on the backs of elephants.  

In this column drum, a lone elephant occupies an entire panel, accrediting it with a similar importance as gods and kings:

The kingdom of Kush kushite relief cut stone wall carving Sudan Richard Lepsius aethiopen aethiopien denkmaeler Musawwarat es Sufra decorated column elephant pet lion gods apedemak amun.jpg

elephant musawwarat es sufra.jpg

 

This one is directly behind the throne or altar in the lion temple of Musawwarat, flanked by a lion on the other side. 

depiction-of-an-elephant-at-the-lion-temple-musawwarat.jpg

Elephants were so important at this site that even the lion depictions in their own lion temple make space for it. This isn't the case in other lion temples. 

Elephants in Musawwarat feature in everything from column bases:

Elephant musawwarat.jpg

 

To statues:

Musawwarat es Sufra temple 100 elephant statue.jpg

 

To informal graffito:

Graffiti-Elefant.jpg

 

To crockery...:

ft0000035f_fig4.jpg

kingdom of kush kushite bronze cup with elephants meroe rck_5_-_dunham_d._the_west_and_south_cemeteries_at_meroe-2 9.jpg

Those circles they're holding, are probably gold, and a clear association with wealth. 

 

As I said, this isn't (just) about hunting. There is no hunting scene anywhere on the enclosure that I'm aware of (and I've looked at many hundreds of graffito, reliefs and statuary):

As for militaristic scenes and weapons? There's quite a bit...

Kingdom of Kush Kushite lion god apedemak wielding a composite recurve bow relief from Musawwarat es Sufra.jpg

Graffiti of warriors & huntsmen, meroitic 2-4 cents AD in situ great enclosure at musawwarat al sufra.jpg

The kingdom of Kush kushite relief cut stone wall carving Sudan Richard Lepsius aethiopen aethiopien denkmaeler Musawwarat es Sufra column procession of armed gods bow spear round shield sword amun apedemak horus.jpg

 

Again, this place wasn't about hunting and killing animals. I think I can even prove it.

Behold, a crocodile from Musawwarat es Sufra, with a rope tied around its mouth:

Relief of a crocodile with tied up mouth on the lion temple in Musawwarat es Sufra.jpg

They were capturing animals and keeping them there (alive). Possibly/Probably both for ritual purposes, for war, and for export to Egypt. Elephants were obviously the big boys of the show. 

 

Elephants in musawwarat kingdom of kush kushite.jpg

I know, I know... It's from a children's book, and I'm not saying that this is accurate... But I'm not saying that it's inaccurate either... :P 

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16 hours ago, Sundiata said:

@Nescio, sorry if I come over as a little direct sometimes. The question is complex so I try to go straight to point, and I genuinely make effort to add all the necessary nuances, so as not to mislead people. I want to point out that I always enjoy our exchanges, even if it's not necessarily evident. You ask tough questions, which often make me dig deeper, which is really good, because I always discover new things while reading and researching. (And I've learnt quite a bit from many of your posts as well). Of course we don't always agree on things, but that's just fine. Just thought I should mention this because I realize that I sometimes come over a little blunt in our engagements.

Thank you for your kind words. Don't worry too much about direct language, I can handle bluntness, and have seen a lot worse. The purpose of discussions is exchanging information and sharpening ideas. They're interactions that work both ways. And yes, a critical attitude towards sources and a healthy dose of scepsis can help to better understand the subject in question, for everyone.

Although we have different backgrounds and different ways of expressing ourselves, I do believe that in general, we're in broad agreement; we just quibble over details and put emphasis on different aspects. I don't know everything you do, which means that, while something may appear perfectly evident to you, I often need more information to be convinced. And presumably vice versa in other situations.

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Hopefully @m7600 doesn't mind this thread discussion is no longer on his art. :)

16 hours ago, Sundiata said:

As I said, it's a complex question and Musawwarat es Sufra is of a substantial size, and relatively well preserved, which means there's a lot to say about it.

Which is a good thing!

16 hours ago, Sundiata said:

1) Elephants are not just richly depicted at Musawwarat. Musawwarat es Sufra contains the largest collection of depictions of elephants anywhere in the entire Nile region! And these depictions are located in very prominent places in and around the temple complex. There is no other place, neither in Egypt, nor in Sudan, that contains so many depictions of elephants dating to Antiquity. I think that's very difficult to ignore. Especially considering that these depictions include war elephants. 

The first thing that springs to my mind is that elephants may have been the local cult animal, like crocodiles in the Faiyum (i.e. Shedet = Krokodeilopolis = Arsinoē). Sure, crocodiles were depicted elsewhere in Egypt, but nowhere near as often as in the Faiyum; besides, (sacred) crocodiles were kept in the temple complex there.

16 hours ago, Sundiata said:

2) The second point is more complex. Who were the temples in the Great Enclosure dedicated to? It's not clear. But, Musawwarat, including those temples is also home to the largest number of depictions of the gods Arensnuphis and Sebiumeker, again in prominent locations. Especially Arensnuphis is of interest here. And one depiction in particular:

Wenig also highlighted this in the article above: “Of course many ... only be conjectured.” (p 86). I found this sentence particularly fascinating:

To date there has been no rebuttal of my previously posed hypothesis that, in Kush, deities of Egyptian origin received multiple-room temples while temples with a single soom-structure were only erected for indigenous gods (Wenig 1984).

Given that he excludes Amun and frequently mentioned Apedemak, and you highlight Arensnuphis and Sebiumeker, my money would be on those three. Is anything known about their relations to each other? E.g. in Memphis, Ptah was the main god, Sekhmet his spouse, Nefertum their child.

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8 hours ago, Nescio said:

Hopefully @m7600 doesn't mind this thread discussion

Not at all, I'm learning a lot from it :)

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On 7/25/2020 at 8:36 AM, Nescio said:

The first thing that springs to my mind is that elephants may have been the local cult animal, like crocodiles in the Faiyum (i.e. Shedet = Krokodeilopolis = Arsinoē). Sure, crocodiles were depicted elsewhere in Egypt, but nowhere near as often as in the Faiyum; besides, (sacred) crocodiles were kept in the temple complex there.

Good example. So yeah, for me, it really seems more likely that there were elephants at Musawwarat. In what capacity, I really can't say for sure, but it seems very plausible to me that it was both cultic, military and commercial. Kushite temples had a commercial aspect to them. Usually in the form of workshops, and probably controlling temple lands as well. Trade in exotic animals including elephants really seems like something that would be monopolized either by the royals, or by the powerful religious cults and those preconditions intersect at Musawwarat, where royals and clergy would have undoubtedly interacted regularly.  

 

On 7/25/2020 at 8:36 AM, Nescio said:

Wenig also highlighted this in the article above: “Of course many ... only be conjectured.” (p 86). I found this sentence particularly fascinating:

To date there has been no rebuttal of my previously posed hypothesis that, in Kush, deities of Egyptian origin received multiple-room temples while temples with a single soom-structure were only erected for indigenous gods (Wenig 1984).

Given that he excludes Amun and frequently mentioned Apedemak, and you highlight Arensnuphis and Sebiumeker, my money would be on those three. Is anything known about their relations to each other? E.g. in Memphis, Ptah was the main god, Sekhmet his spouse, Nefertum their child.

Yeah, he's right. The central temple is definitely not an Amun temple. And he's also right that Egyptian gods always have multi-room temples, while the ones to local gods are single-room. It's a very good observation that can be easily checked, and it does check out. 

The Lion temple of Apedemak is located just outside of the Great Enclosure, next to the great hafir of Musawwarat. It's unlikely that there was more than one temple to the same god at one site, so that probably rules out Apedemak as the main god of the temples inside the Great Enclosure, which aren't even comparable to other Apedemak temples. Depictions of Amun, Isis, Mut, Osiris, Re-Horakhty, Khnum etc are to be expected all over the place, regardless of which gods the temples were actually dedicated to, as in every other archaeological site. See the amount of gods depicted on the Apedemak temple at Musawwarat, for example:

kingdom of kush kushite musawwarat es sufra lion temple apedemak relief procession of the gods.jpg

5 other gods accompany Apedemak, including Sebiumeker and Arensnuphis. 

Detail of the two gods in question:

Lion temple musawwarat size.jpg

M2763b-14.jpg

According to the wiki-page, Sebiumeker was actually known as the "Lord of Musawwarat", but I don't know the source for that...

The wiki-page on Arensnuphis says that he was known as the companion of Isis, in Philae, where he was also worshiped. 

Apedemak's companion was Amesemi, another local goddess.

I don't know how they all relate to each other. 

There are actually 2 colossal statues of both Arensnuphis (left) and Sebiumeker (right) from Musawwarat:

Arensnufis Arensnuphis statue colossal Musawwarat es Sufra Kush Kushite Nubia Sudan.jpg1024px-Sebiumeker_God_in_the_Carlsberg_Museum.jpg

 

I suspect these are also of the same gods, but I can't be sure (also from Musawwarat):

Kingdom of Kush Kushite Meroitic statues from Musawwarat es Sufra Sudan B.jpg

 

The way they flank Amun, the state god, in this carving from Musawwarat emphasizes their importance at the site:

Kingdom of kush kushite deities gods Sébioumeker, Amon et Aresnouphis à Musawwarat es Sufra Amun Ram.jpg

 

Just as important as Apedemak (also from Musawwarat):

Apedemak Amun Musawwarat Kush Kushite Meroitic stone carving.jpg

So yeah, Musawwarat as a whole, was probably dedicated to Apedemak, Sebiumeker, Arensnuphis and a third mystery god... At least, that's where I would put my money.

There's another really important fact to bring out. I'm sure you've noticed Hellenistic influences at Musawwarat. Some are subtle, some are more explicit. But the standing structures all date to the Meroitic period, and so does the Hellenistic influence. Why is this important? None of the local gods had stone temples constructed to them in the preceding Napatan Period. In fact, Apedemak, Arensnuphis, Sebiuemeker, Amesemi and the other Meroitic gods aren't even attested before the Meroitic Period. They only appear around the same time that Hellenistic influences enter Sudan. The central temple at Musawwarat is a fully peripteral temple. Unheard of in the Napatan Period. The only other places in Kush that have peripteral temples are Meroë (temple M 250) and Naqa (temple N 600), both Meroitic Period temples, and both Naqa and Meroë have clear examples of Hellenistic influence in other areas as well. This is significant, because the use of war-elephants may well be a Hellenistic influence itself (war elephants are not attested before the Meroitic Period).

By the way, another important detail I missed. I found a bunch of images from a 1971 book, that seem to be from even earlier reports. It shows the back wall of the Lion Temple at Musawwarat (before restoration), just behind the altar. I shared the image of one of the elephants in the previous post, but these images provide better context. 

Both of the lions, and both of the elephants are in fact leashed! It's becoming very explicit now... 

M2763b-28 copy.jpg

M2763b-27 copy.jpg

The sketch is more clear and unambiguous: 

M2763b-26.jpg

I've never seen anybody even make this argument before... But recurring images of leashed elephants really adds a lot of credence to the idea that elephants were really kept here. 

 

Another major argument in favor of elephants being present, is that Musawwarat es Sufra (obviously not the indigenous name) was actually called "Aborepi" by the Meroites, which translates into "place of the elephant" according to Rilly, the world's foremost expert in the Meroitic language.

"What is most significant at this site is the number of representations of elephants, which suggests that this animal played an important role at Musawwarat. The ancient Meroitic name of the site itself, Aborepi, has been translated as “place of the elephant,” tracing the word for elephant, abore, back to a Nilo-Saharan root in the Proto-Northeast Sudanic sub-phylum (Rilly and de Voogt 2012, p. 102)"  from "The Meroitic Empire: Trade and Cultural Influences in an Indian Ocean Context": https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10437-014-9169-0

Maybe I should have opened with that one, huh? lol.... 

 

 

16 hours ago, m7600 said:

Not at all, I'm learning a lot from it :)

If you want to jazz it up a little, one thing you could do is add some freestanding columns at the entrance of the courtyard. 

Then it will look uniform with all the other elephant stables (adds recognizability):

Elephant stables 0AD.jpg

 

Columns from Musawwarat as reference:

row of columns from musawwarat.png

See the elephant statue in the background to the right, as if it's whispering to us: "it's a good idea, go for it!:) 

 

Columns from Meroë, but same thing:

Kingdom of Kush Kushite decorated column capital at the amun temple in meroe.jpg

Kingdom of Kush Kushite In-tact column standing in situ at Meroë near to a decorated doorway in the wall of a trench.jpg

I think it would add some flavor.

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4 hours ago, Sundiata said:

Good example. So yeah, for me, it really seems more likely that there were elephants at Musawwarat. In what capacity, I really can't say for sure, but it seems very plausible to me that it was both cultic, military and commercial. Kushite temples had a commercial aspect to them. Usually in the form of workshops, and probably controlling temple lands as well. Trade in exotic animals including elephants really seems like something that would be monopolized either by the royals, or by the powerful religious cults and those preconditions intersect at Musawwarat, where royals and clergy would have undoubtedly interacted regularly. 

In antiquity religious aspects often intersected with more mundane ones.

Druids were also scholars and judges, the Serapeum doubled as library, religious festivals were used to mark seasons among other things.

I think it is plausible that priests of a elephant temple would profit from their herd of tame elephants.

Or that a training center would have a temple to the elephant god.

Edited by Ultimate Aurelian
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12 minutes ago, Ultimate Aurelian said:

In antiquity religious aspects often intersected with more mundane ones.

Druids were also scholars and judges, the Serapeum doubled as library, religious festivals were used to mark seasons among other things.

I think it is plausible that priest of a elephant temple would profit from their herd of tame elephants.

Or that a training center would have a temple to the elephant god.

Who was the elephant god again? Was that Apedemak? I got lost.

I think it's cool that the Kushites had their own gods, despite the Egyptian influence.

That's all I can say about this issue, wish I knew more : P (but I'm already learning a lot from this discussion)

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Just now, m7600 said:

Who was the elephant god again? Was that Apedemak? I got lost.

Apedemak was the lion god.

There isn't an explicit elephant god that we know of, but in a previous post I identified a god riding an elephant as Arensnuphis. I actually may have made a mistake. It's Sebiumeker riding the elephant (not 100% sure, but it's one of those two). 

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2 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

Apedemak was the lion god.

There isn't an explicit elephant god that we know of, but in a previous post I identified a god riding an elephant as Arensnuphis. I actually may have made a mistake. It's Sebiumeker riding the elephant (not 100% sure, but it's one of those two). 

Cool. If you don't mind another question, who is the crocodile-human figure in the Kush emblem? Is that Amun?

Sorry for my ignorance. I'll read up on Kushite mythology in the next months : D

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Just now, m7600 said:

Cool. If you don't mind another question, who is the crocodile-human figure in the Kush emblem? Is that Amun?

That's Amun (of Napata), a ram-headed god. The ram-headed version of the Egyptian, human-headed version of Amun (of Thebes). They were like, the same god, but different, or something... Basically two apparitions of the same deity. The Kushite state god. He's depicted everywhere...

Kushites Amun Emblem final 0AD Sundiata Lion Kanzen.jpgThe God Amun in his full glory in Naqa relief.jpg

 

The Theban Amun (left), together with the Napatan Amun (right), 

Naqa Amun of Karnak Thebes and Amun of Napata relief Bild-14-3D-Modell-Relief.jpg

 

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@Stan` said:

Quote

Also I'd like @Nescio and  @Sundiata to agree on the elephant stable ^^

 

I know there's a lot of info in this thread (all of it relevant), so it might be a bit difficult to digest. So let me just sum up the most important arguments:

  • Musawwarat es Sufra was known as "Aborepi", by the Meroites. This translates into "Place of the Elephant" (!). 
  • Musawwarat is home to the largest number (and variety) of depictions of elephants anywhere in the entire Nile region. Elephants are seen in reliefs, statuary, graffito and painted pottery.
  • Musawwarat is home to depictions of at least 3 elephants tied to ropes. Other animals tied to ropes include lions, antelopes and monkeys, all known to have been exported north as well...  
  • Musawwarat is home to a depiction of 2 war-elephants, in addition to a third elephant being mounted by a god (probably the chief god of the site).
  • Musawwarat has the largest water management system in all of ancient Kush, which makes no sense considering that there was virtually no human occupation at the site. Elephants need a lot of water... 
  • Musawwarat has both the infrastructure to house significant numbers of elephants inside the Great Enclosure, as well as the geography to house them outside of the enclosure.  
  • Respected, professional historians (specialists) have maintained the real possibility that elephants were kept there, and were even traded with people from the Mediterranean. 
  • Academic critics of the idea have not put forth legitimate counter-arguments, their arguments being more conjectural than the hypothesis they're criticizing. 

I want to emphasize another thing. Using elements from Musawwarat as a reference or source of inspiration for the Kushite elephant stable, would make this elephant stable the only one in game that is actually based on a reference. The Seleucid, Ptolemaic, Mauryan, Persian and Carthaginian elephant stables are not based on any primary reference at all. There are no references for them!

In fact, there simply is no ancient archaeological site from antiquity that is as closely associated with elephants, as Musawwarat es Sufra... I can't think of even one... 

 

@m7600

If you agree with the arguments to use Musawwarat as a source for inspiration, I'd put forth my final suggestion: Most of the roofs in Musawwarat are believed to have been flat. The roof of the Ptolemaic elephant stable in game would be a closer approximation, than the Nubian Vaults, which I've so far not seen attested at Musawwarat. 

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