This is a life-size Roman bronze elephant’s foot, made more than 2,000 years ago around 300–100 BC.
In 218 BC, 37 African war elephants marched over the Alps into Italy under the Carthaginian general Hannibal the Great. He attempted to conquer Rome to avenge the defeat of his father, Hamilcar Barca, but he too was beaten.
This fragment was once part of a huge relief sculpture probably intended to adorn a public building or monument and commemorate a Roman victory over the Carthaginians. The elephant wears a band of metal as armour over its toes. The foot was recovered from the bottom of the Mediterranean sea between Sicily and Tunisia in 1999. See it on display in our Storms, War & Shipwrecks exhibition.