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Thread: Horse dung and Hannibals route

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    Horse dung and Hannibals route

    Where did Hanniba(a)l (meaning literally "beloved/blessed of/by Baal") cross the Alps?

    A couple of researchers have found bacteria in a layer of animal dung dating back to the invasion. The find was made near the Col de la Traversette suggesting that this pass that goes by modern day Turin was made; article here http://news.discovery.com/history/ar...ath-160406.htm

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    I'm curious if nobody knew the route, how is it known there were 37 elephants?

    Pity they werent lucky enough to find elephant over horse dung...

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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    I'm curious if nobody knew the route, how is it known there were 37 elephants?

    Pity they werent lucky enough to find elephant over horse dung...
    Because not all information gets transmitted through history intact. The Romans likely knew how many elephants, what route they took, the names of the unit commanders, if they wore bronze or iron barding or just elephant hide etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    I'm curious if nobody knew the route, how is it known there were 37 elephants?

    Pity they werent lucky enough to find elephant over horse dung...
    The Roman (Latin) accounts and names for Alpine passes do not match modern geography - or names. Realistically though coming from the west through Gaul the Col de la Traverserette would be first of three possible choices - the others entail going further east before turning south and at the time of year when Hannibal reached the Alps - the first really heavy snow hit his army as he was descending the other side of the Alps into modern day Italy - and Lake Trebia was frozen remember - I always took the view that the first pass was most likely; get over and get into Italian Gaul (north of the Ebro traditionally - hence Caesar etc) is the logical thing to do. I was of course guessing as were was everyone but if you rate Hannibal - and I do - then it makes sense.

    It is said that he later met the younger Scipio (Africanus) in Pontus where he fled in exile and Scipio asked him who was the greatest General to which Hannibal replied "Pyrrhus" who was apparently "noble to his enemies". Scipio then asked if Hannibal had defeated him at Zama who he would consider the greatest? Naturally the purported reply was himself. Most likely Roman propaganda of course - though Scipio did go east briefly.

    It basically just adds some possible proof to past guesses but not much else.
    Last edited by snapper; 12 Apr 16, at 05:24.

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    this part of roman history is always quite fascinating. the romans took absolutely enormous casualties proportionally fighting Hannibal. yet they had inspired enough fear in their subject-allies that despite Hannibal's best attempts, he could not really turn many of those subject-allies over to him.

    advance a few centuries down the line, when you're talking about a significantly higher population base, both the late Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire found it excruciatingly difficult to field armies half the size of the ones that fought at Cannae, with less recuperative power.
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    this part of roman history is always quite fascinating. the romans took absolutely enormous casualties proportionally fighting Hannibal. yet they had inspired enough fear in their subject-allies that despite Hannibal's best attempts, he could not really turn many of those subject-allies over to him.

    advance a few centuries down the line, when you're talking about a significantly higher population base, both the late Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire found it excruciatingly difficult to field armies half the size of the ones that fought at Cannae, with less recuperative power.
    Rome fought Hannibal with the equivalent of levie enmass and a lot of allied auxilla, the late period relied on expensive troops like professional legions (and even the auxilla were paid) and increasingly, mercenary units. Roman military might peaked at the end of the Second Triumvate when Rome fielded numbers not seen again in the West until the French Wars of the 18/19cn.

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    Roman military might peaked at the end of the Second Triumvate when Rome fielded numbers not seen again in the West until the French Wars of the 18/19cn.
    of course, in massive civil war rather than any external enemy.

    the funny thing about the Second Triumvate era is that by this time, Roman military superiority was such that fighting foreigners became a side job. Marc Antony was busy fighting the Parthians when he heard news about his weakening position in Rome, and he left the job of fighting the Parthians to a second-in-command. Caesar was busy planning a war on Dacia when he was assassinated. armies were in the high tens of thousands, and were raised fairly effortlessly.

    if you compare this with the time of high empire, raising armies became far harder. Julian the Apostate was a damn competent commander-- he spent about half a decade with a small army, beating the crap of the Alemans and Franks and other Germans on the German frontier, and was revered by his troops.

    however, all of the work he did was completely undone after he took troops from Gaul to mass his forces for an invasion of Persia-- and this was 90,000 men. it was a big army, yes, but not THAT big compared to the number of troops floating around during the civil war.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Why the surprise? Our own WWIII armies are gone and never to return.
    Chimo

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    well, we still have Selective Service. were the US facing an existential threat, I have no doubt that we could still ramp up into a WWIII sized army. it wouldn't be pretty, but it could be done.

    rome couldn't do it after a while because 1. all the politicians feared the army taking over, which happened all the time, and 2. the army was simply too costly to expand.

    still and all, the piddly numbers we're talking about at the end is surprising. Belisarius was given something like 15-25K men to conquer all of Italy, and the expenditures there exhausted the Empire. Crassus had double that in his Parthia campaign six hundred years prior, and that wasn't viewed as all that big a deal.
    Last edited by astralis; 13 Apr 16, at 19:53.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    well, we still have Selective Service. were the US facing an existential threat, I have no doubt that we could still ramp up into a WWIII sized army. it wouldn't be pretty, but it could be done.
    Do we even have 2 million assault rifles? The CF has 10,000 and the standing reserves (as opposed to the readied reserves) is at 100,000+ troops.
    Chimo

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    US gun manufacturers make 10 million+ guns every year. yeah, in an emergency, they sure as hell can do even more.

    OTOH the only way i see that type of existential threat is if aliens invaded or something.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    No way in hell we can deploy 2 million men tomorrow or even within 30-90 days. We don't have the generals or the sgts and old foggies like me can't meet the new standards, not even after 90 days. Aliens come, we're bending over.
    Chimo

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    it'd probably be a year or so, that's pretty much how long it took the US to do it ramping up for WWI and WWII.

    but at least we -could- do it. by the end, Rome and Constantinople simply couldn't, because the chances were too big that whomever was in charge of that army would off the Emperor...as happened plenty of times anyway.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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