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Salford Professorial Lectures: Professor Alaric Searle

Date - Wed 18 Apr 2018

Time - 6.00 pm

Duration - 1 hour

Cost - FREE

Disabled access? - Yes

Venue - Chapman Building, Lecture Theatre 2


War Elephants & Early Tanks: A Transepochal Comparison of Modern Warfare

Event details

Although scholars have in the past dismissed the claim that war elephants were the ‘tanks of the ancient world’, a closer examination of the similarities between the two weapons reveals some remarkable parallels. In fact, a comparison shows that many of the counter-measures adopted in anti-elephant tactics in antiquity had parallels in anti-tank warfare in the Great War of 1914-1918. More significantly, the upward spiral of increased weapon power, followed by defensive counter-measures, then an increase in the protective armour added to the ‘weapons system’, is a process which can be observed in the evolution of both war elephants and early tanks. War elephants and early tanks were also commemorated via cultural artefacts and became part of collective memories in both the ancient world and the twentieth century. These observations raise questions about the dominant narrative in much of the historiography. It will be argued that certain military processes, and hence some aspects of strategy, can transcend different historical epochs. This conclusion itself raises wider questions about the history of military technology, over-hasty assumptions of ‘linear development’ in history, and the methodological challenges of a future ‘globalised’ military history.

Professor Searle will also use the lecture to reflect on the development of academic military history over the last thirty years and will offer some thoughts on the challenges it faces in the future.

Registration from 5.30pm, Lecture will start promptly at 6pm.

Please join us for light refreshements following the lecture in Chapman building refectory.

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