- Only buildable by "Arab" and "Egyptian" cultures
The first elephant species to be tamed was the Asian Elephant, for use in agriculture. Elephant taming - not full domestication, as they are still captured in the wild, rather than being bred in captivity - may have begun in any of three different places. The oldest evidence comes from the Indus Valley Civilization, around roughly 4500 BC. Archaeological evidence for the presence of wild elephants in the Yellow River valley during the Shang Dynasty (1600–1100 BC) of China may suggest that they also used elephants in warfare. The wild elephant populations of Mesopotamia and China declined quickly because of deforestation and human overpopulation: by c. 850 BC the Mesopotamian elephants were extinct, and by c. 500 BC the Chinese elephants were seriously reduced in numbers and limited to areas well south of the Yellow River.
Capturing elephants from the wild remained a difficult task, but a necessary one given the difficulties of breeding in captivity and the long time required for an elephant to reach sufficient maturity to engage in battle. It is commonly thought that all war elephants were male because of males’ greater aggression, but it is rather because a female elephant in battle will run from a male; therefore only males could be used in war, whereas female elephants were more commonly used for logistics.