How (and Where) Did Hannibal Cross the Alps? Experts Finally Have Answers – However, in “Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps,” a new documentary airing on PBS tonight (April 10), a team of experts takes a fresh look at Hannibal’s incredible trip across treacherous mountain terrain. Together, they re-create his long-lost route and reveal the latest discoveries about his historic accomplishment — and depict the famous elephants that played a critical part in his victory against the Romans. [Beasts in Battle: 15 Amazing Animal Recruits in War]
In 218 B.C., when the crossing took place, the powerful nations of Carthage and Rome were at each other’s throats. To defeat the Romans, Hannibal did the unthinkable — he led an army through a mountain region spanning about 80,000 square miles (over 207,000 square kilometers) — and descended on Rome from the north, where the nation least expected an attack.