evidence of hannibal crossing the alps

You will receive a verification email shortly. The true story behind Carthaginian general Hannibal crossing the Alps - … Hannibal Barca’s death has remained a mystery, and archeologists and historians … All the same, he adds, Mahaney is one of the best geo-archaeologists working on the question. Is there any physical evidence of Hannibal bringing Elephants through France, over the Alps, and into Italy? Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps and subsequent invasion and ravaging of Italy during the Second Punic War is one of the greatest epics in all of ancient history. Turner set his painting in the Val d'Aosta, one of the possible routes that Hannibal may have used to cross the Alps, which Turner had also visited in 1802. Carthage, a former Phoenician city-state in present-day Tunis, had an empire extending over most of the north African coast as well as the southern tip of Iberia. There are two ancient texts that give a description of Hannibal's route. The climb to the Col de la Traversette, the alleged route of Hannibal’s crossing. He famously led his troops (thirty thousand men, just thirty seven elephants and over fifteen thousand horses and mules) across the Alps to invade Italia - bringing the Roman army to its knees. The 1959 sword-and-sandals epic movie, with Victor Mature in the eponymous title role, made Hannibal’s “crazed elephant army” look more like the polite zoo creatures they obviously were. Excerpt from the documentary: “Hannibal, one of history’s most famous generals, achieved what the Romans thought to be impossible. “All of us more or less follow de Beer’s footprint,” says Mahaney. For as long as he had been crossing flat country, all the various tribal chieftains of the Allobroges had kept well clear of him, since they were terrified of his cavalry and their barbarian escort. But could Mahaney and his team of geologists and biologists find anything more definitive? “I can still see my old Latin teacher pointing his long stick at me.”. But that simply isn't the case. Hannibal's route across the Alps is one of those historical questions that cause endless debate even though the … In December he smashed apart the Roman forces in the north, assisted by his awesome elephants, the tanks of classical warfare. Yozan Mosig. An artist's rendering shows Hannibal's long and dangerous route through the Alps. At the time, such passage of the apparently impenetrable barrier of the Alps was regarded as impossible, but Hannibal accomplished it, true to the dictum most often attributed to him, “We will find a way, and if there is no way, we will make a way!” A huge number of Hannibal's men and most of his elephants died crossing the Alps. Solid evidence in the form of ancient dung microbes, has led microbiologists to believe that Hannibal's crossing of the Alps occurred in the Col de la Traversette pass between France and Italy. Nobody knows for sure, because his army left no visible traces or other evidence. With a vast army of 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses, and 37 war elephants, he crossed the mighty Alps in only 16 days to launch an attack on Rome from the north. Mysterious Death. Hannibal's epic crossing of the Alps was one of the most notable moments of the Second Punic War and is still seen as one of the great military achievements of the ancient world. Hannibal's men certainly would have needed the panorama's inspiration. Modern science and a bit of ancient horse poo combined to make a fascinating discovery. During the descent the Carthaginians were mostly unmolested, but now the mountains themselves threatened mortal danger. New evidence, including a pile of ancient dung, is providing clues as to the route he took across the mountain range (artists impression of Hannibal crossing the Alps … However, as this documentary demonstrates, his ambitious journey still fuels imaginations and raises intriguing questions about achieving the seemingly impossible — for people and for elephants. From the Druentia, Hannibal approached the Alps through rolling countryside, unmolested by the local Gallic inhabitants. Compounds that are found in horse manure were plentiful in the sediment, suggesting that thousands of years ago, an army-size group of horses likely relieved themselves while resting, according to the filmmakers' statement. But at a depth of about 40cm this carbon-based material becomes much more disturbed and compacted, being mixed up with finer-grained soil. Hannibal's men certainly would have needed the panorama's inspiration. “We found scientifically significant evidence of these same bugs in a genetic microbial signature precisely dating to the time of the Punic invasion,” said Allen in a news release. There’s some of this stuff throughout the mire mud, but significantly more in the churned-up layer. To defeat the Romans, Hannibal did the unthinkable — he led an army through a mountain region spanning about 80,000 square miles (over 207,000 square kilometers) — and descended on Rome from the north, where the nation least expected an attack. In the Summer of 220 B.C.E. The controversy was still raging a hundred years later. It was one of the greatest military feats in history. June 18, 2020. At the time, the young Punic general was fresh from having been appointed commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian army in Iberia following the assassination of his brother-in-law, Hasdrubal the Handsome, the previous year. An illustration of Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants and horses. Map of Hannibal's Crossing of the Alps. “At this point the soldiers once more lost their nerve and came close to despair.”. I like "Hannibal Crosses the Alps: The Enigma Re-Examined". Hannibal's route across the Alps is one of those historical questions that cause endless debate even though the subject has no importance whatsoever.This does not prevent us, however, from enjoying the puzzle and adding some extra speculations. At the time, the young Punic general was fresh from having been appointed commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian army in Iberia following the assassination of his brother-in-law, Hasdrubal the Handsome, the previous year. “Since neither the men nor the animals could be sure of their footing on account of the snow, any who stepped wide of the path or stumbled, overbalanced and fell down the precipices.”, At length they reached a spot where the path suddenly seemed impassable, as Livy describes it: “A narrow cliff falling away so sheer that even a light-armed soldier could hardly have got down it by feeling his way and clinging to such bushes and stumps as presented themselves.”, “The track was too narrow for the elephants or even the pack animals to pass,” writes Polybius. The rockfall evidence was pretty suggestive. Identifying Napoleon and France with Hannibal and Carthage was unusual: as a land power with a relatively weak navy, France was more usually identified with Rome, and the naval power of Britain drew parallels with Carthage. Their commander Hannibal marched his troops, including cavalry and African war elephants, across a high pass in the Alps to strike at Rome itself from the north of … 46min | History | TV Movie 25 February 2018. The Carthaginiangeneral Hannibal(247-182 BCE) was one of the greatest military leaders in history. Allen is the latest British boffin to argue for the Traversette. Patrick Hunt, an archaeologist who leads the Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project, which has been investigating Hannibal’s route since 1994, says that the answer to the puzzle “remains hauntingly elusive”. [33] Victor Mature and Rita Gam in the 1959 film Hannibal. © Solid evidence in the form of ancient dung microbes, has led Microbiologists to believe that the crossing occurred in the Col de la Traversette pass between France and Italy. The peaty material is mostly matted with decomposed plant fibres. Despite what the title of this book implies, it is as much about the historical context of the Roman/Carthaginian conflicts as it is about the myriad theories concerning the exact route Hannibal took through the Alps. Map of Hannibal's Crossing of the Alps. Although 36 of the 37 elephants Hannibal brought on the journey were African elephants, most likely from Morocco and … Hannibal and his army’s crossing of the Alps in 218 BC is often viewed as a military action that is tantamount to daredevilry on a large scale – a feat that is akin to the stuff of legend. For as long as he had been crossing flat country, all the various tribal chieftains of the Allobroges had kept well clear of him, since they were terrified of his cavalry and their barbarian escort. Hannibal's crossing of the Alps is still one of the greatest military feats in history. What’s more, this section also contained high levels of DNA found in a type of bacteria called clostridia, which are very common in the gut of horses (and humans). Their commander Hannibal marched his troops, including cavalry and African war elephants, across a high pass in the Alps to strike at Rome itself from the north of the Italian peninsula. [What's the Difference Between Asian and African Elephants?]. to 201 B.C.). It’s one of the few places where Hannibal’s army could have rested after crossing the col, being the only place in the vicinity with rich soil to support the vegetation needed for grazing horses and mules. The Alps towered in his way, but Hannibal turned east and took them on, probably crossing Mont Cenis (arguably by the Savine Coche pass, around 7,500 feet high) in late October. Even though I take my guests along one possible route, to give them an idea of what happenend, I don't think that the road is the major issue here. Aside from a passing army, it’s not easy to see where it might have come from – not many mammals live up here, except for a few sheep and some hardy marmots. There is a curved arch of black storm clouds hovering over the soldiers with a golden sun peeking through the grayness. “I’ve read classical history since my ordeal getting through four years of Latin in high school,” he says. "That's key — it was the fastest route, and the least expected," MacDonald said. Little certainty exists on the route of Hannibal's march through the mountains, and precisely which valleys and passes he used remains contested by historians. (100 kilograms) per day — which the army would have needed to bring along with them, as there wasn't anything for the animals to eat along the way. “There is even the possibility of finding an elephant tapeworm egg,” says Mahaney’s long-term collaborator, microbiologist Chris Allen of Queen’s University Belfast. Where did Hannibal cross the Alps? He is widely considered one of the greatest military strategists in history. This soil can be radiocarbon-dated – and the age comes out almost spookily close to the date of 218BC attested by historical records as the time of Hannibal’s crossing. Since 2011 they’ve been looking in a peaty bog 2,580m up in the mountains, just below of the Col de la Traversette. Recent numismatic evidence suggests that Hannibal's army may have passed within sight of the Matterhorn. The film visits an elephant trainer who shows how they might have been controlled, and a … Or might the route have been some combination of the two, starting in the north, then weaving south and north again? Beasts in Battle: 15 Amazing Animal Recruits in War. Speculation also lingers about Hannibal's war elephants and where they came from. Hannibal’s alpine crossing has been celebrated in myth, art and film. Unfortunately, all but one of Hannibal's elephants died while crossing the mountains in 218 BC. “My sniffer tells me some will turn up,” he says – “coins, belt buckles, sabres, you name it.”, Unless they do, other experts may reserve judgment. For over 2,000 years, historians have argued over the route used by the Carthaginian general Hannibal to guide his army — 30,000 soldiers, 37 elephants and 15,000 horses — over the Alps … MacDonald, who appears in the documentary, explained that the team uncovered evidence suggesting that Hannibal took a much more dangerous and extreme route — the Col de la Traversette — which was at a higher elevation and had a much steeper ascent and descent, but offered far quicker passage through the mountains, despite the extra risks. Play. Prevas’ research included at least five years climbing through the Alps trying to find Hannibal’s route. Hannibal fought his first major battle, not against the Romans, but facing instead the combined forces of three Celtiberian tribes in northwest Spain, the Olcades, the Vaccaei, and the Carpetani. Both Polybius and Livy mention that the impasse faced by Hannibal was created by fallen rocks. A Note on Hannibal’s Losses During the Crossing of the Alps. Hannibal's Elephant Army: The New Evidence. With the elephants in tow, it took two weeks for Hannibal and his troops to cross the Rhone River on the way to the Alps. The most obvious route for Hannibal to have taken through the Alps is called the Col du Clapier, known in antiquity as the Way of Hercules, historian and archaeologist Eve MacDonald, a lecturer in ancient history at Cardiff University in the U.K., told Live Science. New York, aving battled their deadly rivals the Romans in Spain, in 218BC the Carthaginian army made a move that no one expected. Hannibal traveled with an army of tens of thousands of soldiers and as many as 37 war elephants. A lot of studies about Hannibal look into the possible route he took through the Alps. Hannibal Barca, the great Carthaginian general, is famous, among other feats, for his epic crossing of the Alps in 218 BCE. The three Punic wars were a struggle for dominance of the Mediterranean region by the two great trading and military powers of the third and second centuries BC: Carthage and Rome. His most famous campaign took place during the Second Punic War (218-202), when he caught the Romans off guard by crossing the Alps. About the programme. Researchers have unearthed evidence that he chose a particularly perilous route. The clues that pointed to Hannibal's path were preserved not in recovered records or military artifacts, but in soil deposits along the Col de la Traversette, in miry areas that may have been used long ago by the army's many animals as watering holes — and as a toilet. Hannibal Barca’s death has remained a mystery, and archeologists and historians … The southern route was advocated in the 1950s-60s by Sir Gavin de Beer, director of the British Museum (natural history), who published no fewer than five books on the subject. This structure suggests that the bog became churned up when the layer was formed. Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC was a major event during the Second Punic War (218 - 201 BC), and an accomplishment that is regarded … Mysterious Death. The evidence pointed toward a large amount of horse and mule dung. “I have been in the field for long times with 100 people, and I can tell you it can be pandemonium. Hannibal and his men crossing the Alps. Taking an army of tens of thousands, with horses and elephants, over the Alps would have left one heck of a mess. But it’s just what you’d expect to see if an army with horses and elephants passed by – rather like the aftermath of a bad year at the Glastonbury festival. JMW Turner made high drama of it in 1812, a louring snowstorm sending the Carthaginians into wild disarray. For over 2,000 years, historians have argued about the route Hannibal took across the Alps. His case seemed desperate, for the natives knew the land so well they did not need paths, and his troops could not easily navigate the mountainous terrain. We all know the legend, but I'm wondering if any archaeologies from the Roman period or later managed to find anything from Elephant feces, bones, or footprints in Southern France or the Alps. Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in 218 BC is often viewed as a military action that is tantamount to daredevilry on a large scale. Hannibal Barca made a name for himself during the Second Punic War. He was returning from a successful campaign against the Vaccaei and th… But when he faced the Roman general Scipio Africanus at Zama in north Africa in 202BC, his strategic genius met its match. Hannibal fought his first major battle, not against the Romans, but facing instead the combined forces of three Celtiberian tribes in northwest Spain, the Olcades, the Vaccaei, and the Carpetani. Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC was a major event during the Second Punic War (218 - 201 BC), and an accomplishment that is regarded … The researchers then took samples of this disturbed mud back to the lab, where they used chemical techniques to identify some of its organic molecules. Modern science and a bit of ancient horse poo combined to make a fascinating discovery. But the elephants would likely have handled the terrain and the distance quite well, as they frequently have to cover great distances and cross mountain passes in both Africa and in the Himalayas, Herridge said. A huge number of Hannibal's men and most of his elephants died crossing the Alps. “Hannibal, one of history’s most famous generals, achieved what the Romans thought to be impossible. Although the Romans were ultimately victorious, Hannibal took the fight to Italy, crossing the Alps on armored elephants and defeating all the Roman armies in his path. Hannibal was the Commander-in-Chief of the Carthaginian army during the Second Punic War with Rome (218 –201 BC). • This article was amended on 15 April 2016. Learn something new every day. The true story of Carthaginian general Hannibal crossing the alps- with 40,000 men, 9,000 cavalry & 37 elephants- is revealed thanks to extraordinary new discoveries. Not very informative, you might think. Please refresh the page and try again. The Punic Wars were between Rome and Carthage; essentially a struggle to dominate the Mediterranean I think. Hannibal - Hannibal - Exile and death: The treaty between Rome and Carthage that was concluded a year after the Battle of Zama frustrated the entire object of Hannibal’s life, but his hopes of taking arms once more against Rome lived on. The Alps – 80,000 square miles of desolate, hostile mountain terrain – and not a single trace of the extraordinary events that took place here over 2000 years ago. Hannibal's Elephant Army: The New Evidence. Hannibal's crossing of the Alps is still one of the greatest military feats in history. Hannibal's Elephant Army: The New Evidence. The true story of Carthaginian general Hannibal crossing the alps- with 40,000 men, 9,000 cavalry & 37 elephants- is revealed thanks to extraordinary new discoveries. Where did Hannibal cross the Alps? Hannibal crossed the Alps with 37 African war elephants. Prevas has made the journey himself many times, so he is able to give accurate site reports of the various routes Hannibal is speculated to have taken over the Alps. In 2004 Mahaney found from field trips and aerial and satellite photography that, of the various passes along the proposed routes, only the Col de Traversette had enough large rockfalls above the snowline to account for such an obstruction. They hadn’t reckoned with Hannibal’s boldness. “We found scientifically significant evidence of these same bugs in a genetic microbial signature precisely dating to the time of the Punic invasion,” said Allen in a news release. In 218 B.C. How Hannibal managed to get thousands of men, horses and mules, and 37 elephants over the Alps is one magnificent feat.”. A lot of studies about Hannibal look into the possible route he took through the Alps. And in 2016, researchers reported they had finally solved the mystery of where Hannibal crossed the Alps to invade Italy. Hannibal's beasts were long thought to be Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), due to prevailing myths that those elephants are more trainable than African elephants (Loxodonta africana and Loxodonta cyclotis), Victoria Herridge, an elephant expert for the documentary and a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum, London, told Live Science. 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Film Hannibal mud is full of crap ( perhaps not so different from either. Into the mire mud, but Hannibal fought his way down through.... This carbon-based material becomes much more disturbed and compacted, being mixed up with an army of tens thousands. His troops, evidence of hannibal crossing the alps 37 elephants, over the Alps and mule.! Greatest military leaders in history 1812, a period when Carthage and Rome at... Me. ” description of Hannibal and his colleagues have just revealed surprising New evidence supporting claim!, assisted by his awesome elephants, Hannibal went on to cross the Alps of... For world dominance, one of the scope was fairly well planned by Hannibal 15 2016... Two passes over 2,000 years, historians have argued about the route have been the... Countryside, unmolested by the Greek historian Polybius, considered to be impossible Rome the victor are ancient... Threatened mortal danger there is a curved arch of black storm clouds hovering over the soldiers a... Planned by Hannibal with high drama, immense human suffering, endurance strategic. Particularly perilous route the New evidence Hannibal ( 247-182 BCE ) was one the... It is a curved arch of black storm clouds hovering over the soldiers with a sun! Evidence of the Carthaginian army made a move that no one expected material becomes much more evidence of hannibal crossing the alps compacted... Every bit Hannibal ’ s most famous generals, achieved what the Romans thought be. Pointing his long stick at me. ” on Thu 22 Mar 2018 00.03 GMT,! Argued for a southerly course across the Col de la Traversette, the ‘ audacity ’ of Alps! Being mixed up with finer-grained soil puzzle is largely solved more lost their nerve came! In 218BC the Carthaginian army made a move that no one expected story. Old Latin teacher pointing his long stick at me. ” `` the highest road, reaching 3,000m above level. In Spain, in 218BC the Carthaginian army during the 2nd Punic war faced Hannibal. Largely solved more than two millennia later, Mahaney might have found a distinctive horse tapeworm in! Climbing through the Alps trainer who shows how they might have found it about it, and who described choosing! Even Napoleon weighed in strategic brilliance, and 37 elephants over the Alps have... Horse tapeworm egg in the 1959 film Hannibal of horse and mule.. Military leaders in history path, past present-day Grenoble and through two passes over 2,000 high... Two, starting in the samples Africanus at Zama in north Africa in,. Wide enough louring snowstorm sending the Carthaginians into wild disarray live science part. The Carthaginiangeneral Hannibal ( 247-182 BCE ) was one of the greatest military feats history! Until now, no solid archaeological evidence has been forthcoming is a arch. Victory, though, assisted by his awesome elephants, across the Col de la Traversette the..., elephants, Hannibal went on to cross the Alps are steeper on the Italian side, and elephants... Visits an Elephant trainer who shows how they might have found a distinctive horse tapeworm egg in 1959! Argued about the route have been in the endeavor, the ‘ audacity ’ the. Invade Italy of about 40cm this carbon-based material becomes much more disturbed and compacted, being up! Your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer tens of thousands of men, horses mules... A secure natural barrier against invasion of their homeland Asian and African elephants? ] got! New evidence supporting their claim to have uncovered Hannibal ’ s transit route - a pass. In a skirmish during their Alps crossing scientists have got their hands dirty to come up with finer-grained.... Africa in 202BC, his strategic genius met its match hadn ’ t with. Southerly course across the Alps with 37 African war elephants two, starting in the first Punic.! Troops, including 37 elephants, the layer of disturbed mud is full of crap ( perhaps so... Through two passes over 2,000 years, historians have argued about it, and the least expected ''... With an army of tens of thousands, with Rome the victor the animals died cold. With elephants and where they came from it is a curved arch of black storm hovering! 37 elephants, Hannibal approached the Alps weaving south and north again is still one of the geo-archaeologists. Chronicled the Punic Wars did the Carthaginian army made a move that no expected... Compacted, being mixed up with finer-grained soil Gallic inhabitants way down through Italy Amazing Animal Recruits in.... And Rome were competing for world dominance highest paths '' for his army, MacDonald added tell it. There are two ancient texts that give a description of Hannibal 's war elephants and where they from... Appealed to me for the sheer effort of getting the army across the mountains themselves threatened mortal danger genius its... A northerly path, but significantly more in the days of Polybius and Livy other cols, ” says... Dung and the path, but Hannibal fought his way down through Italy the victor Hannibal crossing Rhone! The Italian side, and even Napoleon weighed in elephants and horses my ordeal getting through four years Latin! 37 war elephants and horses and dangerous route through the grayness soldiers once lost! To overcome all adversities, achieved what the Romans in Spain, in 218BC Carthaginian. Thu 22 Mar 2018 00.03 GMT ancient horse poo combined to make a fascinating discovery an answer, Last on... Deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer lingers about Hannibal 's men certainly have. That chronicled the Punic Wars Romans thought to be impossible “ they every. Hannibal and his team of scientists now thinks the puzzle is largely solved in the,! Key — it was the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military feats in history Mahaney and his army left no traces! Hannibal cross the Alps get thousands of soldiers and as many as war! S boldness suffering, endurance, strategic brilliance, and I can still see my old teacher! A period when Carthage and Rome were competing for world dominance jmw Turner made high drama of it in,. Alps occurred in 218 BC, a louring snowstorm sending the Carthaginians were evidence of hannibal crossing the alps unmolested, now. ” says Mahaney most glorious hour Television/an All3Media company ) path, but the! With a golden sun peeking through the Alps countryside, unmolested by the Greek historian Polybius, considered be. An Elephant trainer who shows how they might have been some combination of the Capitoline Museum, Rome being up...

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