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Poop Science! Ancient Poop May Answer the Hannibal Route Mystery

Apr 06, 2016 05:54 AM EDT
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"Everything comes down to poo," said a funny song by Turk and JD in the hit TV series, "Scrubs."

Now, a newly discovered ancient horse poop is guiding scientists who are trying to uncover the 2,000-year-old enigma about the route Hannibal took through the Alps into Italy.

According to the study published in the journal Archaeometry, researchers found geochemical and microbiological evidence from an alluvial floodplain mire located below the Col de la Traversette.

Col de la Traversette, according to Dangerous Roads, is a high mountain pass located in the Cottian Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps, on the French-Italian border. It has an elevation of 2.398 meters (7,867 feet) above sea level.

The mire was named Mass Animal Deposition (MAD) bed due to its disrupted bedding, greatly increased by organic carbon and key or specialized biological components or compounds.

The researchers said that the abnormality presented by the MAD bed was possibly caused by the passage of Hannibal's army and their animals that fed and defecated during their journey.

Irish Times reported that Hannibal took 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and mules, and about 37 elephants for his Alp crossing expedition.

When the researchers dug about three to four feet of soil, they discovered a layer that seemed to be organic.

Upon close analysis, microbiologists from the Queens University of Belfast found microbes that are usually associated with horse manure.

According to a Washington Post report, researchers also found signs of horse tapeworms--strengthening the possibility of finding an elephant tapeworm in the future--to further prove their theory that Hannibal and his troops passed through this land.

Hannibal, according to a report from The Guardian, is one of the greatest military strategists of the ancient world, alongside Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Scipio, his greatest nemesis.

His reputation as a military strategist skyrocketed mostly for his triumph in passing through to The Alps to Italy to bring the war directly in the Roman Republic.

It is no doubt that Hannibal made it through the Alps, but the question about the routes he took remains unanswered.

This time, perhaps everything will actually come down to poo.

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