Hannibal is known as one of the greatest generals of all times, a master of strategy.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Historians are still struggling to find the exact path that Hannibal used when he crossed the Alps during the Punic Wars. But the researchers were resourceful and started looking into unusual fecal matter presence in the mountains, and it seems that ancient poop helped retrace Hannibal’s steps.
The Second Punic War is considered to be one of the greatest campaigns in the history of military campaigns. But historians were never able to discover the exact place where the famous general crossed the Alps while heading to Rome.
Because a vast army must have left traces of its presence in the mountains, the historians decided to look for fossilized excrements that could attest the passing of a large group of people. And it seems that ancient poop helped retrace Hannibal’s steps.
A team of researchers from the Queen’s Belfast University managed to unearth a couple of layers of animal feces near a small pond situated by Col de Traversette. This is not the first time that historians looked at the Col de Traversette as the potential pass used by the general to cross his invading army.
When they started digging, they focused their attention on the pond due to the fact that it represents the sole water source in the area. And it was only normal that they directed their search towards places with sufficient water supplies because the army was mounted on horses, and the animals needed to drink in order to survive the long journey.
They discovered the fossilized excrement buried under a churned mass next to an alluvial mire. Most probably the path was created by the animals and men that walked over it.
The feces were analyzed with various testing methods including environmental chemistry and genetic and pollen analysis.
According to the results of the analyses, the excrement samples contained Clostridia microbes, a bacterial group usually found in horse poop. Carbon dating revealed that the droppings dated from 200 BC. The historical crossing is believed to have taken place in 218 BC.
Ancient poop helped retrace Hannibal’s steps during the Punic invasion, the most extraordinary military campaign in history.
With this new information, archaeologists and historians may be able to better understand a major event in European history. The team is planning to carry on with the research in order to determine the number of humans and animals that were present during the crossing.
For further information, you can read the entire study that was published in this week’s Archaeometry journal.
Image source: Wikimedia