Piano Keys and Billiard Balls

Trade in African ivory did not begin with Europeans and Americans. The elephant’s ivory has long been treasured and traded beginning with the Egyptians more than 4,000 years ago, followed by the Romans, Carthaginians, Indians and Chinese.   

Before the arrival of Europeans in Africa, elephants provided sustenance and were considered ancestral spirits. Ivory was a byproduct of hunting an animal that provided food for one’s family or village. Africans who hunted the elephant used every part of the animal including the tusk which was used to make tools and personal adornments that were symbols of wealth.