Many of the animals died of cold or disease the following winter, but Hannibal fought his way down through Italy. Thank you for signing up to Live Science. Hannibal tried a detour on the terrifying slopes to the side of the path, but the snow and mud were too slippery. Prevas’ research included at least five years climbing through the Alps trying to find Hannibal’s route. But at a depth of about 40cm this carbon-based material becomes much more disturbed and compacted, being mixed up with finer-grained soil. The rockfall evidence was pretty suggestive. First to oppose the crossing was a tribelet of the Allobroges, who may have been angered by Hannibal’s intervention on behalf of Brancus. 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. 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. The researchers rolled up their sleeves and dug into the mire. How exactly did the Carthaginian general and his elephants reach Italy? "Few historical problems have produced more unprofitable discussion than that of Hannibal's pass over the Alps," said the mid-20th-century historian F. … What's the Difference Between Asian and African Elephants? When he reached the Alps, Hannibal discovered a tribe of people who would hide in ravines and then rush down to attack any who attempted to pass into the mountains. Some authorities proposed a northerly path, past present-day Grenoble and through two passes over 2,000 metres high. 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. But while risks were surely involved in the endeavor, the ‘audacity’ of the scope was fairly well planned by Hannibal. How Hannibal managed to get thousands of men, horses and mules, and 37 elephants over the Alps is one magnificent feat.”. “They were every bit Hannibal’s equal, and no doubt hungry to loot his baggage train,” Mahaney says. 46min | History | TV Movie 25 February 2018. Elephants require vast quantities of food — about 220 lbs. “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. The Romans had presumed that the Alps created a secure natural barrier against invasion of their homeland. You will receive a verification email shortly. The ancient Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca famously led his troops, including 37 elephants, across the Alps mountain range to fight the Romans. "That's key — it was the fastest route, and the least expected," MacDonald said. 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 route across the Alps is one of those historical questions that cause endless debate even though the … In fact, on coins from Carthage depicting realistic representations of elephants, the animals closely resemble the African species in the size and shape of their ears, and in their distinctive, saddle-shaped backs, raising the possibility that the Carthaginians were importing their elephants from northern Africa, Herridge said. Nobody knows for sure, because his army left no visible traces or other evidence. The history of Hannibal Barca , one of the greatest military commanders of the ancient world, is one which has fascinated historians and generals throughout the last two millennia, and yet his final secrets seem often set to never reveal themselves, and especially since Hannibal’s exact route over the Alps – the great secret so long disputed for centuries – seems to have at last been uncovered with the recent discovery of petrified elephant droppings… 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. When he reached the Alps, Hannibal discovered a tribe of people who would hide in ravines and then rush down to attack any who attempted to pass into the mountains. 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. For Mahaney, it began as a hobby and become a labour of love. It is a story replete with high drama, immense human suffering, endurance, strategic brilliance, and stupidity born of arrogance. Play. There’s an old, steep track of rubble leading out of this pass – which might conceivably be based on the very one made by Hannibal’s engineers. 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. 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