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Hannibal's Odyssey


The Environmental Background to the Alpine Invasion of Italia


Hannibal's invasion of Italia in 218 BC is depicted from the standpoint of environmental evidence elicited from ancient texts, and analyzed against present-day Earth Science databases. The conclusion is that the Punic Army followed the southern route over the Alps; a proposal first made by Sir Gavin de Beer in the 1960's.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-951-7
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Aug 15,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 7 x 10
Page Count: 238
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-59333-951-7
$95.00
$57.00

In fall, 218 BC, the Punic Army under Hannibal marched from Cartegena in Iberia across the Pyrénées to the Rhône River and over the Alps to the Po River Plains in one of the most ambitious and unorthodox mountain military operations of all time. As winter closed in, the Punic Army regrouped in the upper Guil Valley and prepared to cross the Col de la Traversette to meet the legions of Publius Cornelius Scipio on the Po River. Hannibal altered the center of gravity in the looming Roman/Carthaginian conflict by opening a second front in northern Italia. The environment proved as much an enemy to Hannibal as marauding Gallic tribes, an ever-present and always looming imminent danger during the mountain crossing. Relying on sources in the ancient literature, mainly Polybius and Livy, this volume correlates and analyzes the physical environment with historical descriptions to pinpoint the route taken by the Punic Army. Unlike previous accounts of the invasion by scores of historians who have argued over the route for the last two millennia this volume delves into the historical, geological, topographical and environmental evidence to identify the actual route. Sites are also identified and discussed for potential geoarchaeological interest on the military culture of ancient Carthage.


William C. Mahaney is the president of Quaternary Surveys, an environmental consulting firm and former director of the Geomorphology and Pedology Lab at York University in Toronto. He is professor emeritus at York University and is the holder of the G.K. Gilbert award (1993) of the AAG for excellence in geomorphologic research. He has written extensively in the area of Quaternary geologic research.

In fall, 218 BC, the Punic Army under Hannibal marched from Cartegena in Iberia across the Pyrénées to the Rhône River and over the Alps to the Po River Plains in one of the most ambitious and unorthodox mountain military operations of all time. As winter closed in, the Punic Army regrouped in the upper Guil Valley and prepared to cross the Col de la Traversette to meet the legions of Publius Cornelius Scipio on the Po River. Hannibal altered the center of gravity in the looming Roman/Carthaginian conflict by opening a second front in northern Italia. The environment proved as much an enemy to Hannibal as marauding Gallic tribes, an ever-present and always looming imminent danger during the mountain crossing. Relying on sources in the ancient literature, mainly Polybius and Livy, this volume correlates and analyzes the physical environment with historical descriptions to pinpoint the route taken by the Punic Army. Unlike previous accounts of the invasion by scores of historians who have argued over the route for the last two millennia this volume delves into the historical, geological, topographical and environmental evidence to identify the actual route. Sites are also identified and discussed for potential geoarchaeological interest on the military culture of ancient Carthage.


William C. Mahaney is the president of Quaternary Surveys, an environmental consulting firm and former director of the Geomorphology and Pedology Lab at York University in Toronto. He is professor emeritus at York University and is the holder of the G.K. Gilbert award (1993) of the AAG for excellence in geomorphologic research. He has written extensively in the area of Quaternary geologic research.

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Contributor Biography

William Mahaney

William C. Mahaney is the president of Quaternary Surveys an environmental consulting firm and former director of the Geomorphology and Pedology Lab at York University in Toronto. He is professor emertus at York University and is the holder of the G.K. Gilbert award (1993) of the AAG for excellence in geomorphologic research. He has written extensively in the area of Quaternary geologic research.

  • Copywrite Page (page 4)
  • Table of Contents (page 7)
  • Foreword (page 9)
  • Prologue (page 11)
  • Acknowledgments (page 15)
  • 1 Introduction (page 17)
  • 2 Overview of the Punic Invasion (page 27)
  • 3 Onset of the Second Punic War (page 39)
  • 4 Campaign Strategy (page 45)
  • 5 Col du Perthus - The First Test (page 61)
  • 6 Volcae - First Roadblock (page 69)
  • 7 The "Island" - Necessary Alliance (page 75)
  • 8 Col de Grîmone: Second Test (page 85)
  • 9 Test of Approach Routes and Col Possibilities (page 99)
  • 10 Combe d Queyras (page 123)
  • 11 Chateau-Queyras - Upper Guil River (page 137)
  • 12 Col de la Traversette - Ultimate Test (page 153)
  • 13 Upper Po River (page 177)
  • 14 Geological Considerations (page 185)
  • 15 Military Considerations (page 191)
  • 16 Conclusions (page 199)
  • Glossary (page 207)
  • Major Players in the Second Punic War and its Aftermath (page 217)
  • References Cited (page 221)
  • Biography (page 234)
  • Index (page 235)
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