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Hannibal and the Alps: unravelling the invasion route

Abstract : Over the last two millennia all the proposed invasion routes followed by the Punic Army in 218bchave been based on historical and topographic analysis provided by Polybius and Livy, the two main ancient sources. Because Polybius actually followed the invasion route 60 years after the trek he is considered the prime authority. Livy never left his residence in Padua and studied the invasion from sources no longer available to us. Neither source provides a name for the approach route and ultimate col of transit into Italia but Polybius does state the col is the highest in the Alps' tas hyperbolas tas anōtatō tōn Alpéon. Several other ancient authors including Varro, Servius and Strabo list the cols from south to north as Col de Larche, Hannibal's Pass, Col de Montgenèvre and Col de Mt Cenis, thus limiting Hannibal's Pass to one of the three major cols south of the Col de Montgenèvre, which are from south to north, Col Agnel, Col de la Traversette and Col de la Croix. Invoking available geological and environmental evidence tied to descriptions in the ancient literature it is apparent Hannibal, either by design or happenstance, approached the Alps through the Queyras, the ultimate col of passage being the Col de la Traversette at nearly 3000 m above sea level. The implications of this find for geoarchaeology are enormous and offer the opportunity to find artefacts that will undoubtedly offer new insights into the military culture of ancient Carthage.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 10, 2009 - 8:57:00 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:56:38 AM

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W. C. Mahaney, Barbara Kapran, Pierre Tricart. Hannibal and the Alps: unravelling the invasion route. Geology Today, Wiley, 2008, 24 (6), pp.223 à 230. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-2451.2008.00695.x⟩. ⟨insu-00403314⟩

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