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Elephants For Ptolemy II: Ptolemaic Policy In Nubia In The Third Century Bc1

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Chapter Summary

Early Ptolemaic policy in western Asia and the Aegean, however, is only part of the story of Egyptian foreign policy. As was true in western Asia and the Aegean, the formative period for Ptolemaic policy in Nubia was the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphos. When Ptolemy II intervened in Nubia in the 270s BC, he was following in the footsteps of his Pharaonic predecessors, whose involvement in Nubia dated back to the beginning of Egyptian history. Like them, Ptolemy II found both opportunities and challenges in the region. Ptolemy I Soter had acquired the nucleus of an elephant corps, possibly obtaining some of Alexander's elephants following his victory over Perdiccas in 321BC, and then capturing forty-three of Demetrius Poliorcetes' elephants and their Indian mahouts at the Battle of Gaza in 312BC. These animals and their mahouts were, however, a wasting asset, as age increasingly eroded their numbers and battle worthiness.

Keywords: Alexander's elephants; Nubia; Ptolemaic policy; Ptolemy I Soter; Ptolemy II Philadelphos



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