Hannibal's trail of poo

For over two thousand years, historians, statesmen and academics have argued about the route Hannibal took across the Alps.

old print of Hannibal, atop his war elephant, being rafted across a river


“Microbiologists based in the Institute for Global Food Security and School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast have recently released results that may have answered one of ancient history’s greatest enigmas: Where did Hannibal cross the Alps?”

The researchers found an unusual layer of soil near the Col de Traversette.

“The deposition lies within a churned-up mass from a 1-metre thick alluvial mire, produced by the constant movement of thousands of animals and humans. Over 70 per cent of the microbes in horse manure are from a group known as the Clostridia, that are very stable in soil - surviving for thousands of years. We found scientifically significant evidence of these same bugs in a genetic microbial signature precisely dating to the time of the Punic invasion.”

[Source: Queens University Belfast press release]

There’s a great article in The Telegraph…

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