Direct vs indirect dating archaeology
The idea here is that, since the accompanying person is shown carrying tusks, the artist added a miniature elephant to signify the known origin of these tusks.
The remote possibility exists, therefore, that Tilos elephants were captured by ancient Aegeans and then traded between Aegeans, Near Eastern people, and Egyptians – in fact, known trade did occur between these regions during the late Bronze Age at least.Counting against the idea of the hairy dwarf elephant being a stylized miniature is the fact that a giraffe also featuring in Rekhmire’s tomb was shown as tall as possible [the image of the tomb painting shown here is borrowed from this article on Rock Art Blog].Doubtless some of you know much more about the habits of Egyptian artists than I do, so please tell us if any of this is or is not reasonable. As you may already have guessed, there is then a third possibility: this being that Rekhmire’s elephant is neither a Siberian mammoth nor a wrongly-scaled ‘symbolic’ elephant, but perhaps a depiction of one of the pygmy Mediterranean island-dwelling species.There are a few other possibilities that could explain the look of the Rekhmire tomb elephant though.
I said earlier that its large tusks demonstrate adult status, and hence show that it can’t be a juvenile Asian elephant.
At first site this looks unlikely to be right in view of the Rekhmire elephant’s hairiness, highly convex back and domed head. As is so often the case with pieces of evidence like this, it’s likely that we may never know the truth of the matter.