Hannibal’s Route across the Alps
We believe that Hannibal crossed the Alps by passing over the Col de la Traversette.
It may have been one of the highest passes and one of the most difficult ones to cross but for that reason we think he crossed there. The 3 reasons as to why we belive he crossed through this pass is that it is one of the highest so that it is the most likely to have snow on it year round, it has a steep difficult decent on the Italian side, and Polybios said that Hannibal marched toward the highest passes of the alps.
- The Col de la Traversette has an elevation of 2,950 meters. (Lendering) This is one of the highest passes in the Alps so it would be the pass that would be likely to have snow on it possibly year round. This is important because it was said that they encountered snow from the previous year on the descent. (Lendering) The higher the elevation the more snow there is. (http://www.altituderando.com/Le-Col-de-la-Traversette-2947m)
- The second reason that we believe that Hannibal crossed here is that Poybios mentioned that it was very difficult to descend. (Brown) The Col de la Traversette has a very steep descent on the Italian side so it would fit the description.
- The third reason is that Polybios also said that Hannibal marched toward the “highest passes in the Alps”. (Brown) In the section of the Alps where Hannibal could have crossed the Col de la Traversette is one of the highest passes.
In addition to these reasons, Pompey wrote to the Senate and said that he passed through the Alps later on and took an easier and more convenient route that was near the sources of the Po and Durance Rivers. This pass was most likely the Mont Genevre which was much lower and not as steep. (Brown)
Now that we have decided on which pass they took, the question is how did they get all their elephants over that pass? We believe that the 3 most plausible ways that Hannibal got his elephants over the Alps are that he either trained all the elephants from a young age to obey him, or he tamed the lead elephant to obey him and all the other elephants followed, or he continually fought with the elephants to keep climbing by beating and whipping them.
- One of the possible solutions as to how he did it is that he trained his army of elephants from a young age and they were all very obedient to him and his elephant wranglers. It is possible to tame an elephant if you captured it while it was young and began its training early. (Deekeswar)
Deekeswar, Harshavardhan. Quora How to Train a War Elephant. 15 September 2014. Web Page. 4 October 2016.
Lendering, Jona. Hannibal in the Alps. 6 April 2016. Web Page. 4 October 2016.
Brown, J. E. T. “Hannibal’s Route across the Alps.” Greece & Rome 10.1 (1963): 38-46. Web.