Even as we mark among the four-foot kind
Snake-handed elephants, whose thousands wall
With ivory ramparts India about,
That her interiors cannot entered be—
So big her count of brutes of which we see
Such few examples. (trans. William Ellery Leonard)
Three years later, E. K. Borthwick added to the evidence with a passage from Dio Chrysostrom (Discourse 79.4): “Again, if ivory is a marvellous possession and worth fighting for, the Indians are of all men most blest and pre-eminent by far, for in their land the bones of the elephants are tossed aside and no one troubles to go near them, just as in our land the bones of cattle and of asses are treated; they even say that in many places the skulls of the elephants, tusks and all, are built into their house walls” (trans. H. Lamar Crosby).
This isn’t really all that relevant to the study of alternative history, but it is certainly an odd bit of ancient lore. It does make me wonder, though, how it was that the same ancient people who could identify the skeletons of elephants somehow were so baffled by the similar bones of extinct mammoths and dwarf elephants that they mistook them for the gigantic bones of super-human heroes. At least in later ages, medieval people, when they weren’t mistaking these same bones for giants, were attributing them to Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, apparently with thousands of elephants, to account for all the bones they found.