Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hannibal’s March over the Alps Revisited

This is an updated post on Hannibal’s march over the Alps, amending my previous post from February 23, 2009. I recently noticed that Google Earth had updated images of the region and the result was a clearer more consistent view, so I decided to re-visit the story. I also reviewed research on the route itself, since the previous post was more concerned with Hannibal’s objective and not his journey.

The chronology below combines information from the two best sources we have on the subject -- Polybius and Livy. Their accounts are similar but do not contain many place names that can be used as landmarks. The place names have been added by modern researchers based on geographical analysis -- taking the descriptions of the terrain and fitting them to the geography.


Day 1 March along the Drôme to the foothills; first encounters, near Die
Night Camp on fairly level ground; near Die

Day 2 March towards blocked Col de Cabre
Night Attack on abandoned blockade at Col de Cabre

Day 3 Enemy attack on baggage train; capture of a fort at Saint-Mens
Night Camp in Gap

Day 4 Easy march towards Durance and Col du Montgenèvre
Night Camp near Prunières?

Day 5 Easy march along the Durance towards Col du Montgenèvre
Night Camp near Embrun?

Day 6 Easy march along the Durance towards Col du Montgenèvre
Night Camp near Mont Dauphin?

Day 7 Envoys from tribe near Briançon; ambush 10 km before Briançon
Night Hannibal's infantry separated from cavalry and baggage train

Day 8 Hannibal's army united near Briançon; march towards Col du Mont Genèvre
Night Camp at La Vachette, near the sources of the Durance?

Day 9 Hannibal's army reaches the Col du Montgenèvre
Night On the summit of Col du Montgenèvre

Col de Montgenèvre - Hautes-Alpes - FranceImage via Wikipedia













Day 10 Halt on the summit of Col du Montgenèvre
Night On the summit of Col du Montgenèvre

Day 11 Halt on the summit of Col du Montgenèvre; it begins to snow
Night On the summit of Col du Montgenèvre

Day 12 Precipitous and dangerous descent for about 9 km (1854 to 1354 meters)
Night Camp near Cesana Torinese

Day 13 Repairing the road; infantry starts to descend
Night Elephant camp near Cesana; infantry camp near Mollières

Day 14 Building a road for the elephants; infantry descends
Night Elephant camp near Cesana; infantry camp near Oulx

Day 15 Building a road for the elephants; infantry descends to Susa
Night Elephant camp near Cesana; infantry camp near Susa

Day 16 Infantry stays at Susa; first of three days' rest to recover from the fatigue

It turns out that there are three proposed routes – north, south, and south/central. The evidence favors the southern route, shown here.

The chronology used here comes from Livius.org and Peter Connolly's book Hannibal and the Enemies of Rome (1978 London).
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3 comments:

Edith said...

I found the Livius.org article here:
http://www.livius.org/ha-hd/hannibal/alps.html

Documentary said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Mike, just discovered your blog, very interesting, I just completed an 8 week walk from Sagunto in spain to Claviere just past montegenevre, your very acurate I think in your description of Hannibals path up and over the alps, I just had to go and see it on the ground for myself, my blog is hannibillica.blogspot.com if your interested...keep up the good work
K.C.