How Did Hannibal Cross the Alps?: A Short Free Course

Hannibal_traversant_les_Alpes_à_dos_déléphant_-_Nicolas_Poussin (1) - Version 2

Over on iTunes, you can find a short course (8 lec­tures in total) on the age-old mys­tery: How did Han­ni­bal and his ele­phants cross the Alps dur­ing the Sec­ond Punic War? The course was pre­sent­ed by arche­ol­o­gist Patrick Hunt in the Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies pro­gram at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, back in 2007. Here’s the descrip­tion for the course:

Han­ni­bal is a name that evoked fear among the ancient Romans for decades. His courage, cun­ning and intre­pid march across the dan­ger­ous Alps in 218 BCE with his army and war ele­phants make for some of the most excit­ing pas­sages found in ancient his­tor­i­cal texts writ­ten by Poly­bius, Livy, and Appi­an. And they con­tin­ue to inspire his­to­ri­ans and archae­ol­o­gists today. The mys­tery of his exact route is still a top­ic of debate, one that has con­sumed Patrick Hunt (Direc­tor of Stanford’s Alpine Archae­ol­o­gy Project) for more than a decade. This course exam­ines Hannibal’s child­hood and his young sol­dier­ly exploits in Spain. Then it fol­lows him over the Pyre­nees and into Gaul, the Alps, Italy, and beyond, exam­in­ing his vic­to­ries over the Romans, his bril­liance as a mil­i­tary strate­gist, and his lega­cy after the Punic Wars. Along the way, stu­dents will learn about archae­ol­o­gists’ efforts to retrace Hannibal’s jour­ney through the Alps and the cut­ting-edge meth­ods that they are using. Hunt has been on foot over every major Alpine pass and has now deter­mined the most prob­a­ble sites where archae­o­log­i­cal evi­dence can be found to help solve the mys­tery.

This course on the great mil­i­tary leader will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties as well as our spe­cial­ized list of cours­es on Ancient his­to­ry, lit­er­ary and phi­los­o­phy.

If you live in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Are, you’ll def­i­nite­ly want to check out the cours­es offered by Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies (where I also hap­pen to work). The pro­gram also reg­u­lar­ly offers online cours­es, for stu­dents liv­ing any­where on this plan­et.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

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