Journal article Open Access

THE HANNIBAL ROUTE CONTROVERSY AND FUTURE HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPLORATION IN THE WESTERN ALPS

Mahaney, W.C.

If we are ever to find artifacts related to Hannibal’s invasion of Italia the actual col route needs to be identified with certainty so that specific sites such as hearths, army bivouac/regrouping areas and other topographic features described in ancient texts are brought into focus. Some of the key environmental features include a gorge along the approach route, bivouac area near the summit of the Alps, and a blocking rockfall on the lee side of the range, amongst others. Strange that Kuhle and Kuhle (2012, 2015) provide a rebuttal of the Traversette Pass blocking rockfall (for location see Fig 12.1, Mahaney, 2008) as the route Hannibal followed into Italia when all evidence points to the one rockfall, a massive topographic feature described by Polybius nearly 2200 years ago. They present various quibbles over various translations of Polybius by no end of authors over the last two millennia, excellent photographs of various passes, but with the Traversette Col and major landforms misplaced on Fig. 1, and mention of fieldwork without offering any field evidence of any kind that might lead to historical archaeological exploration. Yet, it is clear from any author translating Polybius’ Histories that Polybius did indeed see the rockfall mentioned in all ancient texts and he clearly understood the deposit to be a substantial mass, a two-tier event, that is, older and younger deposits superimposed on one another. Kuhle and Kuhle quote Walbank (1990) as a prime author who disputed translations of Polybius (Scott-Kilvert, 1979) etc. saying the topographic situation and time lines were inventions by others. What then, if one were to go to Paton (1922) revised by Walbank and Habicht (2010), only to find that the translation of the rockfall encounter runs parallel with Scott-Kilvert’s translation, the one favored by Mahaney (2008, 2013).

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