The question of precisely where Hannibal and his army crossed the Alps into Italy to defeat the Romans — during the Second Punic War, which began in 218 B.C. — has perplexed historians for nearly 2,000 years.

Thanks to a new study, the first evidence pointing to an answer has been unearthed. Clues to Hannibal’s route were recently discovered — not in maps or letters but in preserved poop deposits, from a churned-up stretch of boggy terrain that probably served as a watering hole and toilet for the army’s animals.

Even the ancient Romans couldn’t agree on where Hannibal’s crossing had taken place, and scholars have debated the topic ever since. Some proposed that the general traced a route through a narrow mountain pass called Col de la Traversette, to the southwest of Turin, Italy, but they couldn’t produce any archaeological proof.

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