Biostratigraphic evidence relating to the age-old question of Hannibal's invasion of Italy, I: history and geological reconstruction

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Mahaney, William C.
Allen, Christopher C. R.
Pentlavalli, Prasanna
Kulakova, Anna
Young, Jonathan M.
Dirszowsky, Randy W.
West, Allen
Kelleher, Brian
Jordan, Sean
Pulleyblank, C
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Controversy over the alpine route that Hannibal of Carthage followed from the Rhône Basin into Italia has raged amongst classicists and ancient historians for over two millennia. The motivation for identifying the route taken by the Punic Army through the Alps lies in its potential for identifying sites of historical archaeological significance and for the resolution of one of history's most enduring quandaries. Here, we present stratigraphic, geochemical and microbiological evidence recovered from an alluvial floodplain mire located below the Col de la Traversette (~3000 m asl—above sea level) on the French/Italian border that potentially identifies the invasion route as the one originally proposed by Sir Gavin de Beer (de Beer 1974). The dated layer is termed the MAD bed (mass animal deposition) based on disrupted bedding, greatly increased organic carbon and key/specialized biological components/compounds, the latter reported in Part II of this paper. We propose that the highly abnormal churned up (bioturbated) bed was contaminated by the passage of Hannibal's animals, possibly thousands, feeding and watering at the site, during the early stage of Hannibal's invasion of Italia (218 bc).
Open access article. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) applies
Hannibalic War , Second Punic War , Environmental parameters , Invasion route question , Hannibal route enigma , Alluvial floodplain mire , MAD bed , Mass animal deposit
Mahaney, W. C., Allen, C. C. R., Pentlavalli, P., Kulakova, A., Young, J. M., Dirszowsky, R. W., West, A., Kelleher, B., Jordan, S., Pulleyblank, C., O'Reilly, S., Murphy, B. T., Lasberg, K., Somelar, P., Garneau, M., Finkelstein, S. A., Sobol, M. K., Kalm, V., Costa, P. J. M.,...Milner, M. W. (2017). Biostratigraphic evidence relating to the age-old question of Hannibal's invasion of Italy, I: History and geological reconstruction. Archaeometry, 59(1), 164-178.