RRC 262/1. I had a little itch in my brain that elephants wearing bells were some how familiar to me when I included the coin below in my previous post.
ETRURIA. Val di Chiana. Ca. 208–207 BC. SNG ANS 36. SNG Morcom 44. HN Italy 69.
I realize it must have been because of the bell on the elephant head on RRC 262/1. The bell must have been a prominent feature on war elephants to make it onto the coin iconography…
addendum. HN Italy 2666 is an AE coin of ~18mm diameter with a bust of Nike on the obverse and an elephant with a bell on the reverse. Trunk curves outwards, not inward. The mint and date is unknown. Two more specimens are in Copenhagen.
Update 6/6/2014: Elephants with Bells also seems to be a Bacrian motif:
8/22/16: and Indo-Greek
Update 4/11/18: So funny to learn while I was observing all this some one else what writing an article on it!
Baglione, M.P. 1976. Su alcune serie parallele di bronzo coniato. In Contributi introduttivi allo studio della monetazione etrusca.Atti Convegno Napoli 1975: 153-180. Roma.
Baglione records 158 known specimens at that time, the vast majority in public collections. Baglione endorses (if I’ve read the Italian right!) Robinson’s dating and notes that W. V Harris, Rome in Etruria and Umbria (Oxford 1971) p. 140 also follows Robinson’s interpretation. I’m wary of dating by type alone and would like some new good hoard or excavation evidence to confirm this hypothesis. I’d also think a little die study might be of use to get an idea of the size of the issue: it seems at first glance that we’re looking at multiple dies for each letter under the elephant (four different Etruscan letters are well attested) and a number of obverse dies. Elephants do appear elsewhere in the Second Punic War on the coinage of rebelling Italic communities. The most impressive example being the aes grave of Meles in Samnium which copy the Barcid silver coinage (Robinson, Essays Mattingly, 1956: 40, fig. 3A; HN Italy 441-42 (but no illustrations)).
I’m more interested in the unusual votive offering. Ambrosini draws the parallel with the famous plate in the Villa Giulia (inv. 23949) with a depiction of a war elephant and her cub. There is a second similar plate from maybe Sardinia that I can’t put my hand on a reference at this moment. from Corsica:
Roma mediorepubblicana; Aspetti culturali di Roma e del Lazio nei secoli IV e III a.C (Rome 1973), no. 33 = Villa Guilia and no. 34 = Corsica.
The votive offering confirms the theme of elephant and cub in a military context. That, of course, made me think of that passage in Dionysius that I quoted in a previous post about how the Roman’s wounded a cub to gain a tactical advantage over Pyrrhus’ use of elephants.