Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Ask MHQ: Absent Ancient Armor

Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: February 12, 2014 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

3rd-century-BC plate. (De Agostini Picture Library/AKG-Images)
3rd-century-BC plate. (De Agostini Picture Library/AKG-Images)
Q In ancient illustrations of war elephants in combat, the mahout (the handler that sits behind the animal's head) does not appear to be armored. He must have been a very inviting target; why didn't mahouts have armor?


A You ask your question in an era when armies make a consistent effort to fully equip their soldiers for their missions. Ancient armies did not necessarily share that mentality. While the use of war elephants was widespread from China to Carthage, generally speaking the mahouts, however valuable their skills, were contracted civilians, usually from countries where labor was not a scarce commodity and armor—and trained elephants—more expensive and more highly valued than human life. To put it bluntly, they were usually not issued armor and usually not paid enough to afford their own. The mahout was somewhat protected by the very bulk and height of his elephant—which in some armies was provided with the armor that its handler was denied. Other than that, he was on his own.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to MHQ magazine

Jon Guttman, Weider History Group's research director, is the author of many military histories.

Anything about military history you've always wanted to know? Submit your question to, and we'll ask an expert in the subject to answer it.


Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy