Hannibal died here 182 B.C.; Danny was here 1962, 2,144 years later.

When Carthaginian General Hannibal went through Gaul across the Alps to attach Italy in the third century before Christ, he started out with forty elephants. He lost half of them crossing the mountains. My grandsons counted my elephants and said there were over 600, but they are not full sized.
Hannibal spent 15 years in Italy harassing the Romans. They finally pushed him to Crete, Tyro, Ephesus, and Nicomedia. He settled between Nicomedia (now Izmit in Turkey) and where Constantinople (now Istanbul) was later founded). Prusias, the King of Bythania had sheltered him for a time, but finally agreed to give Hannibal up to the Romans. He refused to be captured and took poison from his ring and died. He had lived a relatively long life for those days when he died at age 64.

During the summer of 1962, some of us Karamursel servicemen went around the bay to “Hannibal’s Castle.”
My room mate Fred Galante of Long Island, New York and I climbed the mountain south of Karamursel Air Station in 1962. The base was at the site of an old British World War I air strip. The runways were covered with antennas connected with out super-secret jobs as Radio Intercept Analysts. Fred went on to become an Air Force Captain. On the oppositre shore of the Bay of Izmit are the ruins of “Hannibal’s Castle.”
The ancient Bay of Astacus is east of the Sea of Marmara, just southeast of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Our Karamursel Air Base (airmen of the Air Force were there along with Navy and other servicemen, but the old World War I airstrip was covered with antennas) was on a peninsula between the small villages of Yalova and Karamursel. The ancient town of Libyssa was on the north side of the Bay of Astacus was almost opposite our military base.
This is a wall of “Hannibal’s Castle” with local Turkish children. In the background is a part of the Bay of Izmit.
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This is another wall of “Hannibal’s Castle”

On the way to the castle, at the eastern end of the bay, the town now called Izmit was the site of an ancient settlement of 712 B.C. There were frequent earthquakes, which destroyed towns in this area. Nicomedes I of Bythania rebuilt his city here called Nicomedia in 264 B.C. This city became very popular with emperors who did not want to live in Rome. Previous to the founding of Nicomedia in 264 B.C., Nicaea was the capital of Bythinia. The name is a tribe Bithyni who settled here from Trace.

On September 17, 284 A.D., the Emperor Numerianus died. Diocletion was chosen by his troops to lead at Chalcedon. The Emperor Diocletion made Nicomedia the eastern, and senior, capital of the Roman Empire when he introduced the Tetrachy in 286 A.D. The Tetrachy divided the large empire into four districts. In the new system of government, there were two emperors or Augusti and two Caesars. Each ruler was required to recognize Diocletion as the supreme head of the empire, but each was to rule their portion of the empire absolute and decrees of each were to be binding on the others.

To show his disrespect for Rome, the four capitals did not include Rome. The other three capitals were (1) Mediolanum (Milan, in north Italy), (2) Augusta Trevirorum (Trier, Luxembourt, Germany) and (3) Sirmium (Balkan’s/Danube).


This is the ruin of Hannibal’s Castle. It seems like a rather large building for a guy on the run, but he many have been there a long time before he died. It wasn’t a big tourist stop in 1962, but the National Geographic Society believes he died in this area. (detail of a National Geographic Map above)

Here I am climbing through what is left of Hannibal’s Castle in 1962. The tour leader was Chaplain Dave who sponsored the Protestant Men of the Chapel at Karamursel Air Base.
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18 Responses to “Hannibal died here 182 B.C.; Danny was here 1962, 2,144 years later.”

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    I was a 203-1 at KAS 63-64 but never ventured over to Hannibal’s castle which I regret today since I’ve been teaching this stuff for 44 years in hs and college. Just got back from Ephesus.
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