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The Persistence of the Elephants, a lecture by Tom Trautmann

Friday, April 13, 2012
12:00 AM
Room 1636/SSWB/International Institute

The Retreat of the Elephants is the name of a book by Mark Elvin about the environmental history of China where elephants, once distributed throughout, have now been reduced to a population of a few hundred on the border of Myanmar, due to the advance of agriculture over the last 7,000 years. Causes of the retreat of elephants worldwide have been much discussed. But their relative persistence in India requires explanation as well. The talk will explore the elephants, forests and forest people to kings during the long reign of kingship in India, how the Indian pattern differed from the Chinese, and how it influenced Southeast Asia and the Hellenistic kingdoms in ancient times.
The Retreat of the Elephants is the name of a book by Mark Elvin about the environmental history of China where elephants, once distributed throughout, have now been reduced to a population of a few hundred on the border of Myanmar, due to the advance of agriculture over the last 7,000 years. Causes of the retreat of elephants worldwide have been much discussed. But their relative persistence in India requires explanation as well. The talk will explore the elephants, forests and forest people to kings during the long reign of kingship in India, how the Indian pattern differed from the Chinese, and how it influenced Southeast Asia and the Hellenistic kingdoms in ancient times. Thomas R Trautmann is Professor Emeritus of History and Anthropology. He has just returned from Cambodia and India where he has been doing research on elephants. His recent books are "India: Brief History of a Civilization" and "Arthashastra: The Science of Wealth".