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 Hannibal crosses the Alps

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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Mon 26 Feb 2018, 14:54

One of the most famous episodes in history, Hannibal Barca leads a Carthaginian Army from Spain across the River Rhone and the Alps to invade Italy.

Last night, Channel 4 showed a documentary about it, the team responsible arguing that the route Hannibal used was the Col de Traversette

Hannibal's Elephant Army


newspaper article about research team:

Toronto University


this site argues in favour of Montgenevre:

Hannibal in the Alps


Last edited by Triceratops on Mon 26 Feb 2018, 15:09; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Mon 26 Feb 2018, 15:02

Back in 1959, a British Alpine Expedition took an elephant named Jumbo over the Alps. Though their route was via Mont Cenis;

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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Mon 26 Feb 2018, 15:05

Of course elephants were a lot more lithe in Roman times - much more like Austrian ski instructors are today ...

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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Mon 26 Feb 2018, 15:13

The programme stated the Elephants used were a now extinct species from the Atlas Mountains:

North African Elephant



Naturally, not everyone agrees with this theory:

Hannibal's Elephants
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Mon 26 Feb 2018, 15:28

Blog about the Toronto theory, though in Part 3, the author is in favour of Dodge's theory of the Little St Bernard:

Across the Alps part 1
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Mon 26 Feb 2018, 21:50

Didn't Hannibal's brother, Hasdrubal, lead a second Carthaginian army across the Alps a few years after Hannibal had invaded Italy? I thought Hasdrubal also had war elephants with his force and he very likely followed much the same route as his brother had. Of course, before he could reinforce Hannibal, Hasdrubal and his army came to grief against the Romans at the Battle of the Metaurus in 207 BC, but that was after they had crossed the Alps and descended into Italy. So even if the dung, tapeworms and possible archaeological remains of this study show fairly conclusively that a big Carthaginian army of men, horses and elephants passed through there in the second century BC, it is still would not be certain whether it was Hannibal or Hasdrubal.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Tue 27 Feb 2018, 14:38

Reading on wiki, Hasdrubal did indeed use the same route over the Alps as his brother. The big difference being that Hasdrubal crossed in the spring and did not face the opposition that Hannibal had from the mountain tribes.

Interestingly, in the Pyrenees, Hasdrubal was obliged to cross at the extreme western end to avoid the Roman forces in Spain, while Hannibal had used the coastal route along the Mediterranean.

One column of Hannibal's Army, the most westerly, crossed the Ebro it's junction with the Segre and followed that river upstream. It must have crossed into Gaul somewhere in the Pyrenees Orientales.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Tue 27 Feb 2018, 15:30

@Triceratops wrote:

One column of Hannibal's Army, the most westerly, crossed the Ebro it's junction with the Segre and followed that river upstream. It must have crossed into Gaul somewhere in the Pyrenees Orientales.

The main right-hand column, with Hannibal himself, came over eastern end of the Pyrenees by the ancient route that passes through what is now Le Perthus on the French/Spanish border. There's still a very tortuous road that follows the gorge, but it's more likely he followed the easier but less direct route just to the north-west of the town and passing over the Col de Parnissars (that's the way the later Roman road goes).

From there he descended to the Roussillon plain, probably crossed the Tech River in the vicinity of Le Boulou, and then camped outside the city of Illiberis, now called Elne (where I used to live - it's about 30km from where I am now). Illiberis was then on the coast at the mouth of the Tech river with a small port (long since silted up and Elne is now about 3km inland). It was at here that he paused to negociate passage with all these southern Gaulish tribes. According to local legend while Hannibal was encamped at Illiberis/Elne, they set up a committee with a delagation from the town, to manage the market/food stocks/prices/grazing etc, and the Carthiginians were shocked when the city chose as their representatives a group of elderly women ... but were then were greatly impressed by their commonsense and wisdom. Well that's the local story anyway.

From Illiberis/Elne he moved on past the city of Ruscino (just east of what is now Perpignan) before moving on round the tip of the Corbieres (at Béziers) and presumably on past what would later be the city of Narbonne ... essentially I think he followed the route of the later Via Domitia, which in turn is essentially the route of the modern E15 autoroute.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Tue 27 Feb 2018, 20:47

Interesting as the documentary was I am still wondering why there has never been any mention of any mummified or frozen remains being found  of elephants , horses or even human beings.
Surely on this journey there must have been many deaths due to sickness, accidents etc.

Yes , they found disturbed earth samples which they claimed was caused by men and animals during some resting periods but this could also have been caused by earth movements.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Tue 27 Feb 2018, 22:34

@Dirk Marinus wrote:
Interesting as the documentary was I am still wondering why there has never been any mention of any mummified or frozen remains being found  of elephants , horses or even human beings.
Surely on this journey there must have been many deaths due to sickness, accidents etc.

Yes , they found disturbed earth samples which they claimed was caused by men and animals during some resting periods but this could also have been caused by earth movements.


Dirk,

can it be that the Hannibal story is blown up out of proportion by the Romans, because of their meagre role in the event. If Hannibal had to do surhuman effort to surpass the Alps it was an excuse for their defeat...?
And as Alexander the Great he could have used local guides, who transferred him and his army nearly unharmed through the Alps...?
And if there were any remains, it would have immediately after the transfer, cleaned for every piece that had worth for the mountain people?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 09:24

I think we can be sure that Hannibal did take an Army across the Alps, as almost immediately he defeats Roman forces at the Ticinus and the Trebia.

Finding archaeological evidence for the crossing is going to be extremely difficult, as it was a transitory event and took place 2200 years ago.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 10:37

Regarding the distinctive elephants: Hannibal only had 38 of them when he started out from Spain, and only 3 made it down to Italy (Polybius's account). So at most that's just three dozen animals dead in the Alps ... eaten by the Carthaginians themselves or by scavanging wolves and vultures, and the remains scattered on the surface and likely soon eroded away.


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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 10:42

@Triceratops wrote:
I think we can be sure that Hannibal did take an Army across the Alps, as almost immediately he defeats Roman forces at the Ticinus and the Trebia.

Finding archaeological evidence for the crossing is going to be extremely difficult, as it was a transitory event and took place 2200 years ago.




Yes , 
 finding archaeological evidence of any event what happened 2200 years ago may be difficult but what about the remains of the so-called ICEMAN, although totally frozen, what was found in the Alps some years ago.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 10:55

@Dirk Marinus wrote:
Interesting as the documentary was I am still wondering why there has never been any mention of any mummified or frozen remains being found of elephants, horses or even human beings .....

..... but what about the remains of the so-called ICEMAN, although totally frozen, what was found in the Alps some years ago.

But Hannibal didn't cross the highest, permanently snow-covered summits. All the main passes through the mountains are only covered in snow in the very depths of winter, so you're unlikely to get any preserved remains unless they fell into bogs or deep rocky crevices/potholes (and Alpine bogs/soils are usually very shallow). Nearly all preserved bog bodies are from lowland areas with high water tables and deep bogs, and very often the bodies had been deliberately buried, rather than just casually left on the surface. Utzi the Bronze Age Iceman, was very unusual as he was found well above the permanent snow-line. Most animals that die in mountain areas soon get scavanged, the parts scattered, and being exposed to the elements even the big bones soon get broken down.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 12:02

In the village of Maillane in Provence, there is a street named the Rue du Geant, from elephant bones found there, and that are claimed to have been (some of) Hannibal's elephants:

Maillane
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 13:00

Defensive moat from what is believed to be a Carthaginian entrenchment from Hannibal's time, found at Valls in Catalonia;

2200 year old moat
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 13:20

And there's no point in buying a book when it's free:

Hannibal by Theodore Dodge
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 13:58

@Triceratops wrote:
In the village of Maillane in Provence, there is a street named the Rue du Geant, from elephant bones found there, and that are claimed to have been (some of) Hannibal's elephants:

Maillane

I suspect this is just a good local tale and that the bones are probably fossils, very possibly of elephants or elephant relatives like mastodons or mammoths, and all very interesting in their own right, but nevertheless unconnected with Hannibal. In fact there are a number of sites around southern France where skeletal remains of "Hannibal's elephants" have been found, usually in the 18th or 19th centuries, but the stories are still good today for tourist purposes. Such tales are in much the same manner as the elephant/mammoth skeletons found in Essex and Kent that were often hailed as having arrived with the Emperor Claudius - who did indeed have some elephants in his army, but not ones that had been extinct for several thousands of years.
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Wed 28 Feb 2018, 22:40

Elephants aren't what they used to be. When Ian Botham took part in a "recreation" of Hannibal's crossing, the elephants dropped out after about 5 miles.
Bet these would have had some trouble with an elephant's long bones!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Bearded_Vulture#p00fc69l
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PostSubject: Re: Hannibal crosses the Alps   Thu 22 Mar 2018, 23:08

@Triceratops wrote:
One of the most famous episodes in history, Hannibal Barca leads a Carthaginian Army from Spain across the River Rhone and the Alps to invade Italy.

Last night, Channel 4 showed a documentary about it, the team responsible arguing that the route Hannibal used was the Col de Traversette

Hannibal's Elephant Army


newspaper article about research team:

Toronto University


this site argues in favour of Montgenevre:

Hannibal in the Alps

Triceratops and others,

I just saw a documentary about this subject you are mentioning here.
https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/077826-000-A/hannibal-la-marche-sur-rome/
It's French and availble in German too.
After the documentary, which was essentially about the research of William Mahoney and Chris Allen, I did some research and found as you the article of the Guardian 3 april of 2016. But what surprises me on internet, one finds hundreds entries on April 2016 but nothing anymore up to this very moment...Isn't that a sign that the research hasn't given anything up to now? Or was it a bit overblown at the moment and no further evidence found?

And yes as said in the documentary a 10,000 horses passed the Alps and 37 elephants as Meles meles said. And after the Alps there is no mentioning of the elephants anymore as they had nearly died during the traverse...
I was wondering about the soldiers...or are human excrements not traceable anymore aftre 2,200 years?
It took Hannibal, according to the documentary, only 9 days to cross the Alps. And he had a lot of difficulties to cross the Rhône...

About the sources:
The teacher of Hannibal (mentioned in the documentary) the Greek Sosylos has written seven books about the life of Hannibal, but only one page is nowadays remained (kept at Würzburg), but it can be that Polybios could still read it in his time and incorporate in his narration...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sosylus_of_Lacedaemon
but Titus Livius I suspect of "parti pris, bias" (I translated him during the latin lessons in the humaniora)..
The sources from Polybius and Titus Livius:
http://www.johndclare.net/AncientHistory/Hannibal_Sources3.html


Kind regards, Paul.
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