814 BC–146 BC
Flag of Carthage
Attributed Military standard (based on R. Hook's illustrations for Wise's "Armies of the Carthaginian Wars, 265 – 146 BC")
Symbol of the goddess Tanit (religious or supposed state insignia) of Carthage
Symbol of the goddess Tanit
(religious or supposed state insignia)
Carthage and its dependencies in 264 BC
Carthage and its dependencies in 264 BC
Common languagesPunic, Phoenician, Berber (Numidian), Ancient Greek
Punic religion
GovernmentMonarchy until 480 BC, republic thereafter[1]
King, later Shophet ("Judge") 
Historical eraAntiquity
• Foundation of Carthage
814 BC
• Destroyed
146 BC
• 221 BC[2]
3,700,000–4,300,000 (entire empire)
CurrencyCarthaginian shekel
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Africa (Roman province)
Sicilia (Roman province)

Carthage (/ˈkɑːrθədʒ/; Punic: 𐤒𐤓𐤕𐤟𐤇𐤃𐤔𐤕, romanized: Qart-ḥadašt, lit. 'New City'; Latin: Carthāgō)[3] was a Phoenician city-state located in modern Tunisia. Founded around 814 BCE, it grew to become the center of the Carthaginian Empire, a commercial and maritime power that spanned coastal northwest Africa, southern Iberia, and the islands of the western Mediterranean.[4][5][6]

Initially a dependency of the Phoenician state of Tyre, Carthage gained independence around 650 BCE and gradually established its political hegemony over other Phoenician settlements throughout the western Mediterranean. The Carthaginian sphere of influence included many neighboring peoples, creating a multi-ethnic empire that retained its "Punic" Phoenician culture and identity. At its height in the third century BCE, Carthage was among the largest and richest cities in antiquity, and a leading commercial and industrial hub in the Mediterranean. Its vast trade network extended from the Phoenician homeland in the Levant, to northern Europe and West Africa, providing agricultural products, precious metals, and manufactured goods. This mercantile empire was secured by a large and powerful navy.

Until the mid-third century BCE, Carthage was the dominant commercial, political, and military power in the Mediterranean. This led to hostilities with many of its neighbors, such as the indigenous Berbers of North Africa,[7] but especially the nascent Roman Republic. Following a series of conflicts with the Greeks in Sicily known as the Sicilian Wars (c. 600–265 BCE), its growing rivalry with Rome culminated in the Punic Wars (264–146 BCE), which saw some of the largest and most sophisticated battles in antiquity. In 146 BC, after the third and final Punic War, Roman forces destroyed Carthage and established a new city in its place.[8] Remaining Carthaginian dependencies, as well as other Phoenician city-states, came under Roman domination by the first century CE.

Carthage is best remembered for its long and bitter conflict with Rome, which almost threatened the rise of the Roman Republic and changed the course of Western civilization. Due to the destruction of virtually all Carthaginian texts after the Third Punic War, much of what is known about its civilization comes from Roman and Greek authors writing well after its destruction, who to varying degrees are influenced by attitudes from the Punic Wars.


Foundation legends

According to Roman sources, Phoenician colonists from modern-day Lebanon founded Carthage around 814 BCE, led by Dido (also known as Queen Elissa or Alissar), an exiled princess of the ancient Phoenician city-state of Tyre.[9] Elissa's brother, Pygmalion, had murdered her husband, the high priest of the city, and taken power as a tyrant. Elissa and like-minded Tyrians escaped his reign and founded Carthage, and subsequently its later dominions. Details of Dido's life are sparse and inconsistent, but various sources provide some illumination.

Writing in the second century CE, centuries after Carthage's destruction, the Roman historian Justin described Princess Elissa as the daughter of King Belus II of Tyre. When he died, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother Pygmalion. She married her uncle Acerbas, also known as Sychaeus, the High Priest of Melqart, whose wealth and authority rivaled that of the king. This led to increased rivalry between the religious elite and the monarchy. Pygmalion, a tyrant who coveted Acerbas' power and riches, assassinated him and took power, deceiving Elissa about the cause of death.[10] At the same time, the people of Tyre called for a single sovereign, allowing Pygmalion to rule as an autocrat.

In his epic poem the Aeneid, which tells the legendary story of the Trojan Aeneas, Virgil links the mythical founding of both Carthage and Rome, introducing Carthage as follows:

The rising city, which from far you see

Is Carthage, and a Tyrian colony

Phoenician Dido rules the growing state

Who fled from Tyre, to shun her brother's hate

Great were her wrongs, her story full of fate

Virgil describes Queen Elissa—for whom he uses the ancient Greek name, Dido—as an esteemed and clever character. As in other legends, the impetus for her escape is her tyrannical brother Pygmalion, whose secret murder of her husband is revealed to her in a dream. Taking advantage of her brother's greed, Dido tricks Pygmalion into supporting her journey to find and bring back riches for him. Through this ruse she sets sail with gold and allies in search of a new home.

Upon landing in North Africa, Dido is greeted by the local Berber chieftain, Iarbas, who promises to cede as much land as could be covered by a single ox hide. With her characteristic cleverness, Dido cuts the hide into very thin strips and lays them end to end until they encircle the entire hill of Byrsa. While digging to set the foundation of their new settlement, the Tyrians discover the head of a horse, which in Phoenician culture is a symbol of courage and conquest. The horse foretells where Dido's new city will rise, becoming the emblem of Carthage, derived from the Phoenician Qart-Hadasht, meaning "New City".

The suicide of Queen Dido, by Claude-Augustin Cayot (1667–1722)

In just seven years since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians build a successful kingdom under Dido's rule. She is adored by her subjects and presented with a festival of praise. Virgil portrays her character as even more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who had recently escaped from Troy. The two fall in love during a hunting expedition, and Dido comes to believe will marry. Jupiter sends a spirit in the form of the messenger god, Mercury, to remind Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love Dido, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. The Trojan departs, leaving Dido so heartbroken that she commits suicide by stabbing herself upon a funeral pyre with his sword. As she lies dying, she predicts eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own, proclaiming "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" in an invocation of Hannibal.[11] Aeneas sees the smoke from the pyre as he sails away, and though he does not know the fate of Dido, he identifies it as a bad omen. Ultimately goes on to found the Roman Kingdom, the predecessor of the Roman Empire.

Virgil's account does not form part of the original legend, but rather conveys Rome's attitude towards the city Dido had founded, as exemplified by Cato the Elder's famous utterance, "Carthago delenda est", "Carthage must be destroyed".[12] In essence, Aeneas chose Rome over Dido, prompting her dying curse upon his Roman descendants, which provides a mythical backdrop for a century of bitter conflict between Rome and Carthage.

Phoenician settlement (c. 814 BCE)

The Carthaginians were descendants of the Phoenicians, a Semitic-speaking people originating from the Levant, mostly along the coast of modern Lebanon. The Phoenicians were themselves an offshoot of the Canaanites, who lived throughout the Levant, but became distinguishable for their prowess as mariners, explorers, and merchants. From their emergence around 1200 BCE, the Phoenicians were the dominant shipbuilders and sailors of the ancient world, forging a vast Mediterranean trade network that stretched from Cyprus to the Atlantic coast of Spain.

To facilitate their commercial ventures, the Phoenicians established numerous colonies and trading posts along the coasts of the Mediterranean. Organized in fiercely independent city-states, the Phoenicians lacked the numbers or even the desire to expand their territory overseas; most colonies had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, though some, including Carthage, would eventually grow larger.[13] They were instead driven by various practical considerations, such as seeking safe harbors for their merchant fleets, maintaining monopoly on an area's natural resources, satisfying the demand for trade goods, and finding areas where they could trade freely without outside interference.[14][15][16] Over time many Phoenicians also sought to escape their tributary obligations to foreign powers that had subjugated the Phoenician homeland. Another motivating factors was competition with the Greeks, who became a nascent maritime power and began establishing colonies across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.[17]

The first Phoenician colonies in the western Mediterranean grew up on the two paths to Iberia's mineral wealth—along the northwest African coast and on Sicily, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands.[18] As the largest and wealthiest city-state among the Phoenicians, Tyre led the way in settling or controlling coastal areas. Strabo claims that the Tyrians alone founded three hundred colonies on the west African coast; though clearly an exaggeration, many colonies did arise in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Iberia, and to a much lesser extent, on the arid coast of Libya.[19] By the time they established a foothold in Africa, the Phoenicians were already present in Cyprus, Crete, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, and Sicily, as well as on the European mainland in Genoa and Marseille.[20] Settlements in Crete and Sicily continually clashed with the Greeks,[21] but the Phoenicians managed to control all of Sicily for a limited time. The entire area would later come under the leadership and protection of Carthage,[22] which eventually dispatched its own colonists to found new cities, or to reinforce those that declined with the loss of primacy of Tyre and Sidon.[23]

Ancient Carthaginian funerary art: sarcophagus of a priest, showing a bearded man with his hand raised. Louvre, Paris

The site of Carthage was chosen by the Tyrians for several reasons. It was located in the central shore of the Gulf of Tunis, which gave it access to the Mediterranean sea while shielding it from the region's infamously violent storms. It was also close to the strategically vital Strait of Sicily, a key bottleneck for maritime trade between the eat and west. The terrain proved as invaluable as the geography. The city was built on a hilly, triangular peninsula backed by the Lake of Tunis, which provided abundant supplies of fish and a place for safe harbor. The peninsula was connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, which combined with the rough surrounding terrain, made the city easily defensible; a citadel was built on Byrsa, a low hill overlooking the sea. Finally, Carthage would be conduit of two major trade routes: one between the Tyrian colony of Cadiz in southern Spain, which supplied raw materials for manufacturing in Tyre, and the other between North Africa and the northern Mediterranean, namely Sicily, Italy, and Greece.

In contrast to most Phoenician colonies, Carthage would grow quickly thanks to its favorable climate, arable land, and lucrative trade routes. Within just one century of its founding, its population rose to 30,000.

Formation of the empire and peak of power (c. 650–264 BCE)

Carthage's mother city of Tyre was for centuries the center of Phoenician civilization and its principal economic and political hub.[24] However, its power began to wane in the seventh century BCE following a succession of sieges by the Babylonians.[25][26] By this time, the colony of Carthage had become immensely wealthy from its strategic location and extensive trade network. Unlike many other Phoenician city-states, Carthage grew prosperous not only from maritime commerce but from its proximity to fertile agricultural land and rich mineral deposits. As the main hub for trade between Africa and the rest of the ancient world, the city also provided a myriad of rare and luxurious commodities, including terracotta figurines and masks, jewelry, delicately carved ivories, ostrich eggs, and a variety of foods and wine.

Although Carthage remained staunchly Phoenician in its identity, customs, and religion, it also developed a distinct Punic culture infused with local influences. Certain deities became more prominent in the Carthaginian pantheon than in Phoenicia, and by the fifth century BCE the Carthaginians were worshiping Greek deities such as Demeter.[27] Carthage also retained religious practices that had long fallen out of favor in Tyre, such as child sacrifice. Similarly, it had its own Punic dialect of Phoenician, which also reflected contributions by neighboring peoples.

Though the specific date and circumstances are unknown, Carthage most likely became independent around 650 BCE, when it established the first of several colonies. It nonetheless maintained amicable cultural and commercial ties with its Phoenician homeland, from which it continued to receive migrants.

An imaginary rendition of ancient Carthage. The city's strategic location and favorable geography were key to its rise. (Note the fortified hill of Byrsa and the Lake of Tunis in the background.)

By the sixth century BCE, Tyre's power declined further still after its voluntary submission to the Persian king Cambyses (r. 530–522 BCE), which resulted in the incorporation of the Phoenician homeland into the Persian empire.[28] Lacking sufficient naval strength, Cambyses sought Tyrian assistance for his planned conquest of Carthage, which may indicate that the former Tyrian colony had become wealthy enough to warrant a long expedition. Herodotus claims that the Tyrians refused to cooperate due to their affinity for Carthage, causing the Persian king to abort his campaign. Though it escaped reprisal, the Persians thereafter favored the next most powerful Phoenician city-state, Sidon, which subsequently became the new center of the Phoenician world.

In 509 BCE, Carthage and Rome signed the first of several treaties demarcating their respective influence and commercial activities.[29][30] This is the first known source demonstrating that Carthage had gained control over Sicily and Sardinia. The treaty also conveys the extent to which Carthage was, at the very least, on equal terms with Rome, if not the preeminent naval power at the time. Carthaginian dominance of the sea reflected not only its Phoenician heritage, but an approach empire-building that differed greatly from Rome. Carthage emphasized maritime trade over territorial expansion, and accordingly focused its settlements and influence on coastal areas and invested more on its navy. By contrast, the Romans focused on expanding and consolidating their control over mainland Italy. These differences would prove key in the conduct and trajectory of the later Punic Wars.

By the beginning of the fifth century BCE, Carthage had become the commercial center of the western Mediterranean, and would remain so for roughly the next three centuries.[31] Although they retained traditional Phoenician affinity for trade, seafaring, and exploration, the Carthaginians departed significantly in their imperial and military ambitions. Whereas the Phoenicians rarely engaged in territorial conquest, Carthage became an expansionist power in an effort to grow its access to new sources of wealth and trade. It took control of all nearby Phoenician colonies (ncluding Hadrumetum, Utica, Hippo Diarrhytus and Kerkouane), subjugated many neighboring Libyan tribes, and occupied the coastal North Africa from Morocco to western Libya.[32] Carthage expanded its influence into the Mediterranean, controlling Sardinia, Malta, the Balearic Islands, and the western half of Sicily,[33] where coastal fortresses such as Motya and Lilybaeum secured their possessions. The Iberian Peninsula, which was rich in precious metals, saw some of the largest and most important Carthaginian settlements outside North Africa.[34] While Carthaginian cultural influence in Iberia is documented, the degree of its political influence before the conquest by Hamilcar Barca (237-228 BCE) is disputed.[35][36]

Whereas other Phoenician cities never exercised actual control of the colonies, the Carthaginians appointed magistrates to directly control their colonies.[37] This policy resulted in a number of Iberian towns siding with the Romans during the Punic Wars of 264 to 146 BCE.

Due to its growing wealth and power, and the continued foreign subjugation of the Phoenician homeland, Carthage soon supplanted Sidon as the supreme Phoenician city-state.[38] Its dominant position was reinforced by the destruction of Tyre in 332 BCE by Alexander the Great, which also led to an influx of survivors, particularly those wealthy enough to buy their escape.[39]

By the third century BCE, Carthage was the center of a sprawling empire of colonies, tributary states, and allied peoples. It controlled more territory than the Roman Republic, became one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the Mediterranean, numbering a quarter of a million inhabitants. Only the rising Roman Republic, and to a lesser extent the Greeks of Sicily, could rival its supremacy over the region, which inevitably led to conflict.

Sicilian Wars (580–265 BCE)

First Sicilian War

Bust of the Punic goddess Tanit found in the Carthaginian necropolis of Puig des Molins, dated fourth century BCE, housed in the Museum of Puig des Molins in Ibiza, Spain

Carthage's economic successes, buoyed by its vast maritime trade network, led to the development of a powerful Carthaginian navy to protect and secure vital control of shipping lanes.[40] This growing hegemony brought Carthage into increasing conflict with the Greeks of Syracuse, who also sought control of the central Mediterranean.[41]

The island of Sicily, lying at Carthage's doorstep, became the arena on which this conflict played out. From their earliest days, both the Greeks and Phoenicians had been attracted to the large island, establishing a large number of colonies and trading posts along its coasts; battles raged between these settlements for centuries.[42]

By 480 BCE, Gelo, the tyrant of Greek Syracuse, attempted to unite the island under his rule with the backing of other Greek city-states.[43] Threatened by the potential power of a united Sicily, Carthage intervened militarily to quash his efforts. The campaign was led by King Hamilcar of the Magonid dynasty. Traditional accounts, including by Herodotus and Diodorus, number Hamilcar's army at around 3,000. Though this is certainly exaggerated, it must nonetheless have been of formidable strength.

While sailing to Sicily, Hamilcar suffered losses due to poor weather. Landing at Panormus (modern-day Palermo),[44] he spent three days reorganizing his forces and repairing his battered fleet. The Carthaginians marched along the coast to Himera, making camp before engaging in battle against the forces of Syracuse and its ally Agrigentum.[45] The Greeks won a decisive victory, inflicting heavy losses on the Carthaginians, including their leader Hamilcar, who was either killed during the battle or committed suicide in shame.[46] As a result, the Carthaginian nobility sued for peace.

The conflict proved to be a major turning point for Carthage. Though it would retain some presence in Sicily, most of the island would remain in Greek (and later Roman) hands. The Carthaginians would never again expand their territory or sphere of influence to any meaningful degree, instead turning their attention to securing or increasing their hold in North Africa and Iberia. [47][48] The death of King Hamilcar and the disastrous conduct of the war also prompted political reforms that established an oligarchic republic.[49] Carthage would henceforth constrain its rulers through assemblies of both nobles and the common people.

Second Sicilian War

By 410 BCE, Carthage had recovered from its serious defeats in Sicily. It had conquered much of modern-day Tunisia and founded new colonies across northern Africa. It also extended its reach well beyond the Mediterranean; Hanno the Navigator journeyed down the West African coast,[50][51] and Himilco the Navigator had explored the European Atlantic coast.[52] Expeditions were also led into Morocco and Senegal, as well as into the Atlantic.[53] The same year, the Iberian colonies seceded, cutting off Carthage from a major source of silver and copper. This loss of strategically important mineral wealth, combined with the desire to exercise firmer control over shipping routs, led Hannibal Mago, grandson of Hamilcar, to make preparations to reclaim Sicily.

Coin from Tarentum, in southern Italy, during the occupation by Hannibal (c.212–209 BCE). ΚΛΗ above, ΣΗΡΑΜ/ΒΟΣ below, nude youth on horseback right, placing a laurel wreath on his horse's head; ΤΑΡΑΣ, Taras riding dolphin left, holding trident in right hand, aphlaston in his left hand.

In 409 BCE Hannibal Mago set out for Sicily with his force. He captured the smaller cities of Selinus (modern Selinunte) and Himera—where the Carthaginians had been dealt a humiliating defeat seventy year prior—before returning triumphantly to Carthage with the spoils of war.[54] But the primary enemy, Syracuse, remained untouched and in 405 BCE, Hannibal Mago led a second Carthaginian expedition to claim the rest of the island.

This time, however, he met with fiercer resistance as well as misfortune. During the siege of Agrigentum, Carthaginian forces were ravaged by plague, which also claimed Hannibal Mago himself.[55] Although his successor, Himilco, successfully extended the campaign by breaking a Greek siege—capturing the city of Gela and repeatedly defeating the army of Dionysius of Syracuse—he, too, was weakened by the plague and forced to sue for peace before returning to Carthage.

In 398 BCE, Dionysius had regained his strength and broke the peace treaty, striking at the Carthaginian stronghold of Motya in western Sicily. Himilco responded decisively, leading an expedition which not only reclaimed Motya, but also captured Messene (present-day Messina).[56] Finally, he laid siege to Syracuse itself. The siege was close to a success throughout 397 BCE, but the following year plague again ravaged the Carthaginian forces and led to their collapse.[57]

The fighting in Sicily swung in favor of Carthage less than a decade later in 387 BCE. After winning a naval battle off the coast of Catania, Himilco laid siege to Syracuse with 50,000 Carthaginians, but yet another epidemic struck down thousands of them. Dionysius then launched a counterattack by land and sea, and the Syracusans surprised the enemy fleet while most of the crews were ashore, destroying all the Carthaginian ships. At the same time, Dionysius' ground forces stormed the besiegers' lines and routed them. Himilco and his chief officers abandoned their army and fled Sicily.[58] Returning to Carthage in disgrace, Himilco was met with contempt and eventually committed suicide by starving himself.[59]

Notwithstanding consistently poor luck and heavy losses, Sicily remained an obsession for Carthage. Over the next fifty years, Carthaginian and Greek forces engaged in a constant series of skirmishes. By 340 BCE, Carthage had been pushed entirely into the southwest corner of the island, and an uneasy peace reigned over the island.

Third Sicilian War

Eurasia and Africa (c. 323 BCE).

In 315 BCE, Carthage now found itself on the defensive in Sicily, as Agathocles of Syracuse broke the terms of the peace treaty and seized the city of Messene. Within four years he laid siege to Akragas and invaded the last Carthaginian holdings on the island.

Hamilcar, grandson of Hanno the Great, led the Carthaginian response with great success. By 310 BCE, he controlled almost all of Sicily and besieged Syracuse itself. In desperation, Agathocles secretly led an expedition of 14,000 men in a counterattack against Carthage.[60] The Carthaginians were forced to recall Hamilcar and most of his army from Sicily to face the new and unexpected threat. Although Agathocles' forces were eventually defeated in 307 BCE, he managed to escape back to Sicily and negotiate peace, thus maintaining Syracuse as a stronghold of Greek power in Sicily.

Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC)

Roman trireme on a mosaic. Bardo Museum, Tunisia.

Carthage once again found itself drawn into a war in Sicily, this time by Pyrrhus of Epirus, who challenged both Roman and Carthaginian supremacy over the Mediterranean.[61] Pyrrhus sent an advance guard of 3,000 infantry, under the command of key advisor Cineaus, to the Roman city of Tarentum in southern Italy. Meanwhile, he marched the main army across the Greek peninsula and won several victories over the Thessalians and Athenians. After securing the Greek mainland, Pyrrhus rejoined his advance guard in Tarentum to conquer southern Italy.

During the Italian campaign, Pyrrhus received envoys from the Sicilian cities of Agrigentum, Syracuse, and Leontini seeking military aid to end Carthaginian dominance over the island.[62][63] He agreed, sending reinforcements to the Sicilian cities consisting of 20,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, and 20 war elephants supported by some 200 ships.[64][65] The subsequent Sicilian campaign against Carthage was a success, pushing back Carthaginian forces and capturing the city-fortress of Eryx, though it failed to take Lilybaeum.[66]

Following these losses, Carthage sued for peace, but Pyrrhus refused unless Carthage renounced its claims to Sicily entirely. Plutarch claims Pyrrhus aimed to conquer Carthage itself, and to this end began outfitting an expedition. However, his ruthless treatment of the Sicilian cities in preparations for this expedition, and his execution of two Sicilian rulers for allegedly plotting against him, elicited such a rise in animosity towards the Greeks that he was forced to withdraw from Sicily and focus his attention on southern Italy.[67][68]

Pyrrhus' campaigns in Italy proved inconclusive, and he eventually withdrew to Epirus. For the Carthaginians, this meant a return to the status quo. For the Romans, however, the failure of Pyrrhus to defend the colonies of Magna Graecia led to their absorption into their sphere of influence, bringing Rome closer to complete domination of the Italian peninsula. Rome's domination of Italy, and proof that Rome could pit its military strength successfully against major international powers, would pave the way to future Rome-Carthage conflicts known as the Punic Wars.

Punic Wars ( 264–146 BCE)

Carthage electrum coin (c. 250 BCE). British Museum.
Carthaginian dependencies and protectorates through the Punic Wars.

When Agathocles of Syracuse died in 288 BCE, a large company of Italian mercenaries previously in his service found themselves suddenly unemployed. Naming themselves Mamertines ("Sons of Mars"), they seized the city of Messana and became a law unto themselves, terrorizing the surrounding countryside.[69]

The Mamertines became a growing threat to Carthage and Syracuse alike. In 265 BCE, Hiero II of Syracuse, former general of Pyrrhus, took action against them.[70] Faced with a vastly superior force, the Mamertines divided into two factions, one advocating surrender to Carthage, the other preferring to seek aid from Rome. While the Roman Senate debated the best course of action, the Carthaginians eagerly agreed to send a garrison to Messana. Carthaginian forces were admitted to the city, and a Carthaginian fleet sailed into the Messanan harbor. However, soon afterwards they began negotiating with Hiero. Alarmed, the Mamertines sent another embassy to Rome asking them to expel the Carthaginians.

Hiero's intervention placed Carthage's military forces directly across the Strait of Messina, the narrow channel of water that separated Sicily from Italy. Moreover, the presence of the Carthaginian fleet gave them effective control over this strategically important bottleneck and demonstrated a clear and present danger to nearby Rome and her interests. As a result, the Roman Assembly, although reluctant to ally with a band of mercenaries, sent an expeditionary force to return control of Messana to the Mamertines.

The subsequent Roman attack on Carthaginian forces at Messana triggered the first of the Punic Wars.[71] Over the course of the next century, these three major conflicts between Rome and Carthage would determine the course of Western civilization. The wars included a dramatic Carthaginian invasion led by Hannibal, which nearly brought an end to Rome.

During the First Punic Wars the Romans under the command of Marcus Atilius Regulus managed to land in Africa, though were ultimately repelled by the Carthaginians.[70] Notwithstanding its decisive defense of its homeland, as well as some initial naval victories, Carthage suffered a succession of losses that forced it to sue for peace. Shortly after the First Punic War, Carthage also faced a major mercenary revolt that dramatically changed its internal political landscape, bringing the influential Barcid family to prominence.[72] The war also impacted Carthage's international standing, as Rome used the events of the war to back its claim over Sardinia and Corsica, which it promptly seized.

Adorned Statue of the Punic Goddess Tanit, from the necropolis of Puig des Molins, Ibiza, Spain (fifth-third centuries BCE). Archaeology Museum of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain).

Lingering animosity and renewed tensions along their border regions led to the Second Punic War (218 to 202 BCE) and involved other factions in the western and eastern Mediterranean, with the participation of the Berbers on Carthage's side.[73] The war is marked by Hannibal's surprising overland journey[74] and his costly crossing of the Alps, followed by his reinforcement by Gaulish allies and crushing victories over Roman armies in the battle of the Trebia and the giant ambush at Trasimene. Against his skill on the battlefield the Romans deployed the Fabian strategy, which resorted to skirmishes in lieu of direct engagement. While effective, this approach was political unpopular, as it ran contrary to traditional military strategy. The Romans thus resorted to another major field battle at Cannae, but despite their superior numbers, they suffered a crushing defeat.[75][76]

Consequently, many Roman allies went over to Carthage, prolonging the war in Italy for over a decade, during which more Roman armies were destroyed on the battlefield. Despite these setbacks, the Roman forces were more capable in siegecraft than the Carthaginians and recaptured all the major cities that had joined the enemy, as well as defeating a Carthaginian attempt to reinforce Hannibal at the battle of the Metaurus.[77] Meanwhile, in Iberia, which served as the main source of manpower for the Carthaginian army, a second Roman expedition under Scipio Africanus took New Carthage and ended Carthaginian rule over the peninsula in the battle of Ilipa.[78][79]

The final showdown was the battle of Zama in Africa between Scipio Africanus and Hannibal. Despite the latter's superior numbers and innovative tactics, the Carthaginians suffered a crushing and decisive defeat. Having been brought to the verge of destruction, the Romans imposed harsh and retributive peace conditions on Carthage, which effectively reduced it to a Roman client-state.[80]

The Third Punic War (149 to 146 BCE) was the last of the Punic Wars. The war was a much smaller engagement than its predecessors, and primarily consisted of a single main action, the Battle of Carthage. However, the result was the most decisive: The complete destruction of the city of Carthage,[81] the annexation of all remaining Carthaginian territory by Rome,[82] and the death or enslavement of thousands of Carthaginians.[83][84] The war ended Carthage's independent existence, and consequently eliminated the last Phoenician political power.[85]


Punic district of Carthage

The government of Carthage changed dramatically after the total rout of its forces at the battle of Himera in 483 BCE, during the First Sicilian War.[86] The Magonid clan—of which the defeated and killed King Hamilcar was a member—was compelled to compromise by allowing representative institutions, some of which were even democratic. Carthage thereafter became an oligarchic republic, and would remain so for the rest of its existence, relying on a system of checks and balances and ensuring a form of public accountability and input.

At the head of the Carthaginian state were now two annually elected, nonhereditary Sufets, similar to modern day executive presidents.[87][88][Note 1] Greek and Roman authors more commonly referred to them as "kings". The Phoenician term /ʃufitˤ/ might originally have been the title of the city's governor, installed by the mother city of Tyre. In the historically attested period, the two Sufets were elected annually from among the wealthiest and most influential families, ruling through collegiality, which Livy likens to Roman consuls. This practice might have descended from the plutocratic oligarchies that limited the Sufets' power in the first Phoenician cities.[89]

Aristocratic families were represented in the Supreme Council, which Roman sources refer to as a "Senate", while Greek writers liken it to a "council of Elders" or a Gerousia. It is unknown whether the Sufets were elected by this council or by an assembly of the people. Sufets appeared to have exercised judicial and executive power, but had no power over the military, as generals were chosen by the administration. The final supervision of the treasury and foreign affairs seems to have come under the Supreme Council.[87]

Another body known as the Hundred and Four was described as Carthage's "highest constitutional authority" by Aristotle, who compares it to the Spartan ephors. These were judges who oversaw the actions of generals and other officials to ensure they were serving the best interests of the republic.[89] They had the power to impose fines and even the punishment of crucifixion. Panels of special commissioners, called pentarchies, were appointed from the Hundred and Four to deal with a variety of state affairs.[87] A range of more junior officials and special commissioners oversaw different aspects of government, such as public works, tax-collecting, and the administration of the state treasury.[87][90]

Carthaginian silver shekel depicting a man wearing a laurel wreath on the obverse, and a man riding a war elephant on the reverse (c. 239–209 BCE)

Although the city's administration was firmly controlled by oligarchs,[91] there were some democratic elements as well, including elected legislators, trade unions, town meetings, and a "Popular Assembly". Aristotle states in his Politics that unless the Sufets and the Council reached a unanimous decision, the Popular Assembly had the decisive vote—unlike in Greek states with similar constitutions, such as Sparta and Crete. He claims that "the voice of the people was predominant in the deliberations" and "the people themselves solved problems".[27] Aristotle discusses Carthage's constitution, drawing comparisons to its Spartan counterpart, and describing it as sophisticated and functional.[92][93] He also praises the Carthaginian constitution for its "balanced" elements of monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. Eratosthenes, head of the Library of Alexandria, states that the Greeks were wrong to regard all non-Greeks as barbarians, since the Carthaginians, as well as the Romans, had constitutions.

Polybius, in book 6 of his Histories, also claims that, during the Punic Wars, the Carthaginian public held more sway over the government than the people of Rome held over theirs. He regards this development as evidence of decline, since the Carthaginians would become bogged down in debates while the Romans, through their Senate, could act more quickly and decisively.[94] This may have been due to the influence of the Barcid faction, which between the end of the First Punic War and the end of the Second Punic War, dominated Carthaginian politics, controlled the Carthaginian military, and governed all Carthaginian territories outside Africa.[95][96]


Hannibal Barca counting the rings of the Roman knights killed at the Battle of Cannae (216 BCE), by Sébastien Slodtz (1704). Gardens of the Tuileries, Louvre Museum. Hannibal is regarded as one of the most brilliant military strategists in history.

Carthage did not maintain a large, permanent, standing army.[97] According to Polybius, it relied heavily, though not exclusively, on foreign mercenaries,[98] especially in overseas warfare. The core of its army was from its own territory in Northwest Africa, namely ethnic Libyans, Numidians (modern northern Algeria), and "Liby-Phoenicians", a broad label that included ethnic Phoenicians, those of mixed Punic-North African descent, and Libyans who had integrated into Phoenician culture.[99] These troops were supported by mercenaries from different ethnic groups and geographic locations across the Mediterranean, who fought in their own national units. For instance, the Celts and Balearics and Iberians were recruited to fight in Sicily.[100] Carthage had been employing Iberian troops for a long time even before the Punic Wars; Herodotus and Alcibiades both describe the fighting capabilities of the Iberians among the western Mediterranean mercenaries.[101] Later, after the Barcids conquered large portions of Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal), Iberians came to form an even greater part of the Carthaginian forces.

The uniquely diverse makeup of Carthage's army during the Second Punic War was commented upon by the Romans; Livy characterized Hannibal's army as a "hotch-potch of the riff-raff of all nationalities."[102] He also observed that the Carthaginians, at least under Hannibal, never forced any uniformity upon their disparate forces, and appeared to have maintained such a high degree of unity that they "never quarreled amongst themselves nor mutinied" even during difficult circumstances.[102]

Carthage seems to have fielded a formidable cavalry force, especially in its Northwest African homeland; a significant part of it was composed of light Numidian cavalry. Other mounted troops included North African elephants (now extinct), trained for war, which, among other uses, were commonly used for frontal assaults or as anticavalry protection. An army could field up to several hundred of these animals, but on most reported occasions fewer than a hundred were deployed. The riders of these elephants were armed with a spike and hammer to kill the elephants, in case they charged toward their own army. The Carthaginians also fielded troops such as slingers, soldiers armed with straps of cloth used to toss small stones at high speeds.

Polybius wrote that the Carthaginians were "more exercised in maritime affairs than any other people."[103] Its navy was one of the largest and most powerful in the Mediterranean, using serial production to maintain high numbers at moderate cost.[97] During the Second Punic War, it included some 300 to 350 warships. The sailors and marines of the Carthaginian navy were predominantly recruited from the Phoenician citizenry, unlike the multiethnic allied and mercenary troops of the Carthaginian armies. The navy offered a stable profession and financial security for its sailors. This helped to contribute to the city's political stability, since the unemployed, debt-ridden poor in other cities were frequently inclined to support revolutionary leaders in the hope of improving their own lot.[104] The reputation of her skilled sailors implies that training of oarsmen and coxswains occurred in peacetime, giving their navy a cutting edge.

Carthaginian merchantmen traded across the Sahara, throughout the Mediterranean and northwest Africa, and far into the Atlantic to the tin-rich Cassiterides.[105] Evidence exists that at least one Punic expedition, that of Hanno, may have sailed along the West African coast to regions south of the Tropic of Cancer.[106]

The Romans, who had little experience in naval warfare prior to the First Punic War, managed to finally defeat Carthage with a combination of reverse-engineered, captured Carthaginian ships, recruitment of experienced Greek sailors from the ranks of its conquered cities, the unorthodox corvus device, and their superior numbers in marines and rowers. In the Third Punic War, Polybius describes a tactical innovation of the Carthaginians, augmenting their few triremes with small vessels that carried hooks (to attack the oars) and fire (to attack the hulls). With this new combination, they were able to stand their ground against the numerically superior Romans for a whole day.


Carthaginians spoke a variety of Phoenician called Punic, a Semitic language originating in the Carthaginians' original homeland of Phoenicia (present-day Lebanon).[107][108] Like its parent language, Punic was written from right to left, consisted of 22 consonants without vowels, and is known mostly through inscriptions. During classical antiquity, Punic was spoken throughout Carthage's territories and spheres of influence in the western Mediterranean, namely northwest Africa and several Mediterranean islands. Although the Carthaginians maintained ties and cultural affinities with their Phoenician homeland, their Punic dialect gradually became influenced less by Phoenician and more by the Berber languages spoken in and around Carthage by the ancient Libyans. Following the fall of Carthage, a "Neo-Punic" dialect emerged that diverged from the spelling conventions of Punic and by the use of non-Semitic names, mostly of Libyco-Berber origin.

Notwithstanding the destruction of Carthage and assimilation of its people into the Roman Republic, Punic appeared to have persisted for centuries in the former Carthaginian homeland. This is best attested by Augustine of Hippo, himself of Punic descent, who is considered the "primary source on the survival of [late] Punic". He claims that Punic was still spoken in his region of North Africa in the fifth century, and that there were still people who self identified as "chanani" (Canaanite: Carthaginian). Contemporary funerary texts found in Christian catacombs in Sirte, Libya, bear inscriptions in Ancient Greek, Latin, and Punic, suggesting a fusion of the cultures under Roman rule.

There is evidence that Punic was still spoken and written by Sardinia at least 400 years after the Roman conquest. Aside from Augustine of Hippo, Punic was written by some North African inhabitants until the second or third centuries (albeit in Roman and Greek script) and remained spoken among commoners at least until the end of the fourth century.


Former Carthaginian port

Carthaginian commerce extended by sea throughout the Mediterranean and perhaps as far as the Canary Islands, and by land across the Sahara desert. According to Aristotle, the Carthaginians had commercial treaties with various trading partners to regulate their exports and imports.[109][110]

The empire of Carthage depended heavily on its trade with Tartessos and other cities of the Iberian peninsula,[111][112] from which it obtained vast quantities of silver, lead, copper and – most importantly – tin ore,[113] which was essential to manufacture the bronze objects that were highly prized in antiquity. Carthaginian trade relations with the Iberians, and the naval might that enforced Carthage's monopoly on this trade and the Atlantic tin trade,[114] made it the sole significant broker of tin and maker of bronze in its day. Maintaining this monopoly was one of the major sources of power and prosperity for Carthage; Carthaginian merchants strove to keep the location of the tin mines secret.[115] In addition to its exclusive role as the main distributor of tin, Carthage's central location in the Mediterranean and control of the waters between Sicily and Tunisia allowed it to control the eastern peoples' supply of tin. Carthage was also the Mediterranean's largest producer of silver, mined in Iberia and on the Northwest African coast;[116] after the tin monopoly, this was one of its most profitable trades. One mine in Iberia provided Hannibal with 300 Roman pounds (3.75 talents) of silver a day.[117][118]

Carthage's economy began as an extension of that of its parent city, Tyre.[119] Its massive merchant fleet traversed the trade routes mapped out by Tyre, and Carthage inherited from Tyre the trade in the extremely valuable dye Tyrian purple.[120] No evidence of purple dye manufacture has been found at Carthage, but mounds of shells of the murex marine snails, from which it derived, have been found in excavations of the Punic town called Kerkouane, at Dar Essafi on Cap Bon.[121] Similar mounds of murex have also been found at Djerba[122] on the Gulf of Gabes[123] in Tunisia. Strabo mentions the purple dye-works of Djerba[124] as well as those of the ancient city of Zouchis.[125][126][127] The purple dye became one of the most highly valued commodities in the ancient Mediterranean,[128] being worth fifteen to twenty times its weight in gold. In Roman society, where adult males wore the toga as a national garment, the use of the toga praetexta, decorated with a stripe of Tyrian purple about two to three inches in width along its border, was reserved for magistrates and high priests. Broad purple stripes (latus clavus) were reserved for the togas of the senatorial class, while the equestrian class had the right to wear narrow stripes (angustus clavus).[129][130]

Carthage produced finely embroidered silks,[131] dyed textiles of cotton, linen,[132] and wool, artistic and functional pottery, faience, incense, and perfumes.[133] Its artisans worked expertly with ivory,[134] glassware, and wood,[135] as well as with alabaster, bronze, brass, lead, gold, silver, and precious stones to create a wide array of goods, including mirrors, furniture[136] and cabinetry, beds, bedding, and pillows,[137] jewelry, arms, implements, and household items.[138] It traded in salted Atlantic fish and fish sauce (garum),[139] and brokered the manufactured, agricultural, and natural products[140] of almost every Mediterranean people.[141]

Punic pendant in the form of a bearded head, 4th–3rd century BC.
A Carthaginian coin possibly depicting Hannibal as Hercules

In addition to manufacturing, Carthage practised highly advanced and productive agriculture,[142] using iron ploughs, irrigation,[143] crop rotation, threshing machines, hand-driven rotary mills, and horse mills, the latter two being Carthaginian innovations from the late sixth century BCE and 375–350 BCE, respectively.[144][145] After the Second Punic War, Hannibal promoted agriculture to help restore Carthage's economy and pay the costly war indemnity to Rome (10,000 talents or 800,000 Roman pounds of silver), which proved successful.[146][147][148] Carthage's agricultural prowess earned the respect even of Rome: Following the destruction of the city, the Roman Senate decreed that Mago's famous treatise on agriculture be translated into Latin.[149]

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Carthage developed viticulture and wine production before the fourth century BCE,[150] and even exported its wines widely, as indicated by distinctive cigar-shaped Carthaginian amphorae found at archaeological sites around the western Mediterranean,[151] although the contents of these vessels have not been conclusively analysed. Carthage also shipped quantities of raisin wine, the passum of antiquity.[152] Fruits including figs, pears, and pomegranates, as well as nuts, grain, grapes, dates, and olives were grown in the extensive hinterland,[153] while olive oil was processed and exported all over the Mediterranean. Carthage also raised fine horses, the ancestor of today's Barb horses.[154]

Carthage's merchant ships, which surpassed in number even those of the cities of the Levant, visited every major port of the Mediterranean, as well as Britain and the Atlantic coast of Africa.[155] These ships were able to carry over 100 tons of goods.[156]

Carthage also sent caravans into the interior of Africa and Persia. It traded its manufactured and agricultural goods to the coastal and interior peoples of Africa for salt, gold, timber, ivory, ebony, apes, peacocks, skins, and hides.[157] Its merchants invented the practice of sale by auction and used it to trade with the African tribes. In other ports, they tried to establish permanent warehouses or sell their goods in open-air markets. They obtained amber from Scandinavia, and from the Celtiberians, Gauls, and Celts they got amber, tin, silver, and furs. Sardinia and Corsica produced gold and silver for Carthage, and Phoenician settlements on islands such as Malta and the Balearic Islands produced commodities that would be sent back to Carthage for large-scale distribution. The city supplied poorer civilizations with simple products such as pottery, metallic objects, and ornamentations, often displacing the local manufacturing, but brought its best works to wealthier ones such as the Greeks and Etruscans. Carthage traded in almost every commodity wanted by the ancient world, including spices from Arabia, Africa and India, and slaves (the empire of Carthage temporarily held a portion of Europe and sent conquered barbarian warriors into Northern African slavery).[158]

Herodotus wrote an account in about 430 BCE of Carthaginian trade on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.[159] The Punic explorer and suffete of Carthage, Hanno the Navigator, led an expedition to recolonise the Atlantic coast of Morocco that may have ventured as far down the coast of Africa as Senegal and perhaps even beyond.[160] The Greek version of the Periplus of Hanno describes his voyage. Although it is not known just how far his fleet sailed on the African coastline, this short report, dating probably from the fifth or sixth century BCE, identifies distinguishing geographic features such as a coastal volcano and an encounter with hairy hominids.

Archaeological finds show evidence of all kinds of exchanges, from the vast quantities of tin needed for a bronze-based metals civilization to all manner of textiles, ceramics and fine metalwork. Before and in between the wars, Carthaginian merchants were in every port in the Mediterranean, trading in harbours with warehouses or from ships beached on the coast.[161]

The Etruscan language is imperfectly deciphered, but bilingual inscriptions found in archaeological excavations at the sites of Etruscan cities indicate the Phoenicians had trading relations with the Etruscans for centuries.[162] In 1964, a shrine to Astarte, a popular Phoenician deity, was discovered in Italy containing three gold tablets with inscriptions in Etruscan and Phoenician, giving tangible proof of the Phoenician presence in the Italian peninsula at the end of the sixth century BCE, long before the rise of Rome.[163] These inscriptions imply a political and commercial alliance between Carthage[164] and the Etruscan ruler of Caere that would corroborate Aristotle's statement that the Etruscans and Carthaginians were so close as to form almost one people.[165] The Etruscan city-states were, at times, both commercial partners of Carthage and military allies.[166]


Carthaginian coins showing the wreathed head of Tanit. (c. 310–290 BCE)

The Carthaginians practiced the Phoenician religion, a polytheist belief system that was derived from the faiths of the Levant. Many deities were unique to the Carthaginians and are now known only under their local names. Carthage also had Jewish communities.[167]

The supreme divine couple was that of Tanit and Baʿal Ḥammon.[168] The goddess Astarte[169] seems to have been popular in early times.[170] At the height of its cosmopolitan era, Carthage seems to have hosted a large array of divinities from the neighbouring civilizations of Greece, Egypt and the Etruscan city-states. A pantheon was presided over by the father of the gods, but a goddess was the principal figure in the Phoenician pantheon.

Surviving Punic texts are detailed enough to show a very well organized caste of temple priests and acolytes performing different functions, for a variety of prices. Priests were clean shaven, unlike most of the population.[171] In its earlier centuries, ritual celebrations included rhythmic dancing derived from Phoenician traditions.

Stelae on the Tophet.
Punic stela with a symbol of Tanit. Carthage, Tunisia.

Cippi and stelae of limestone are characteristic monuments of Punic art and religion,[172] found throughout the western Phoenician world in unbroken continuity, both historically and geographically. Most of them were set up over urns containing cremated human remains, placed within open-air sanctuaries. Such sanctuaries constitute some of the most best preserved and striking relics of Punic civilization.

Human sacrifice

Carthage was accused by its adversaries of child sacrifice. Plutarch alleges the practice,[173] as do Tertullian,[174] Orosius, Philo and Diodorus Siculus.[175] However, Herodotos and Polybius do not. Sceptics contend that if Carthage's critics were aware of such a practice, however limited, they would have been horrified by it and exaggerated its extent due to their polemical treatment of the Carthaginians.[176] The Hebrew Bible mentions child sacrifice practiced by the Canaanites, ancestors of the Carthaginians. The Greek and Roman critics, according to Charles Picard, objected not to the killing of children but to the religious nature of it. As in both ancient Greece and Rome, inconvenient newborns were commonly killed by exposure to the elements.[177]

Modern archaeology in formerly Punic areas has discovered a number of large cemeteries for children and infants, representing a civic and religious institution for worship and sacrifice called the Tophet by archaeologists. These cemeteries may have been used as graves for stillborn infants or children who died very early.[178] Modern archaeological excavations have been interpreted by many archaeologists[179] as confirming Plutarch's reports of Carthaginian child sacrifice.[180] An estimated 20,000 urns were deposited between 400 and 200 BCE in the tophet discovered in the Salammbô neighbourhood of present-day Carthage with the practice continuing until the early years of the Christian period.[181] The urns contained the charred bones of newborns and in some cases the bones of fetuses and two-year-olds. There is a clear correlation between the frequency of cremation and the well-being of the city. In bad times (war, poor harvests) cremations became more frequent, but it is not known why. One explanation for this correlation is the claim that the Carthaginians prayed for divine intervention via child sacrifice; however, bad times would naturally lead to increased child mortality, and consequently, more child burials via cremation.

Accounts of child sacrifice in Carthage report that beginning at the founding of Carthage in about 814 BCE, mothers and fathers buried their children who had been sacrificed to Baʿal Hammon and Tanit in the tophet.[182] The practice was apparently distasteful even to Carthaginians, and they began to buy children for the purpose of sacrifice or even to raise servant children instead of offering up their own. However, Carthage's priests demanded the youth in times of crisis such as war, drought, or famine. Special ceremonies during extreme crisis saw up to 200 children of the most affluent and powerful families slain and tossed into the burning pyre.[183]

Sceptics maintain that the bodies of children found in Carthaginian and Phoenician cemeteries were merely the cremated remains of children who died naturally. Sergio Ribichini has argued that the tophet was "a child necropolis designed to receive the remains of infants who had died prematurely of sickness or other natural causes, and who for this reason were 'offered' to specific deities and buried in a place different from the one reserved for the ordinary dead".[184] However, a recent study has argued that archaeological evidence confirms that the Carthaginians practiced human sacrifice.[185]

Inscriptions in Punic found in Carthage attest to the existence of a mayumas festival probably involving the ritual portage of water, the word itself arguably a Semitic calque on the Greek ὑδροφόρια (hydrophoria). Each text ends with the words, "for the Lady, for Tanit Face-of-Baal, and for the Lord, for Baal of the Amanus, that which so-and-so vowed.[186]

Portrayals in fiction

Carthage features in Gustave Flaubert's historical novel Salammbô (1862). Set around the time of the Mercenary War, it includes a dramatic description of child sacrifice, and the boy Hannibal narrowly avoiding being sacrificed. Giovanni Pastrone's epic silent film Cabiria is narrowly based on Flaubert's novel.

The Young Carthaginian (1887) by G. A. Henty is a boys' adventure novel told from the perspective of Malchus, a fictional teenage lieutenant of Hannibal during the Second Punic War.

In The Dead Past, a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, a leading character is a historian studying ancient times who is trying to disprove the allegation that the Carthaginians carried out child sacrifice.

The Purple Quest by Frank G. Slaughter is about the founding of Carthage.

Die Sterwende Stad ("The Dying City") is a novel written in Afrikaans by Antonie P. Roux and published in 1956. It is a fictional account of life in Carthage and includes the defeat of Hannibal by Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama. For several years it was prescribed reading for South African year 11 and 12 high school students studying the Afrikaans language.[citation needed]

Alternate history

"Delenda Est", a short story in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, is an alternate history where Hannibal won the Second Punic War, and Carthage exists in the 20th century.

A duology by John Maddox Roberts, comprising Hannibal's Children (2002) and The Seven Hills (2005), is set in an alternate history where Hannibal defeated Rome in the Second Punic War, and Carthage is still a major Mediterranean power in 100 BC.

Mary Gentle used an alternate history version of Carthage as a setting in her novels Ash: A Secret History and Ilario, A Story of the First History. In these books, Carthage is dominated by Germanic tribes, and the premise is that the Visigoths conquered Carthage and set up a huge empire that repelled the Muslim conquest. In these novels, titles such as "lord-amir" and "scientist-magus" indicate a fusion of European and Northwest African cultures, and Arian Christianity is the state religion.

Stephen Baxter also features Carthage in his alternate history Northland trilogy; in Baxter's narrative it is Carthage that prevails and subjugates Rome.[187]

See also


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  • Curtis, Robert I. (2008). "Food Processing and Preparation". In Oleson, John Peter (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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  • Hoyos, Dexter (2003). Hannibal's dynasty. Power and politics in the western Mediterranean, 247–183 BC. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-203-41782-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links

  • Carthage - Ancient History Encyclopedia

Coordinates: 36°50′38″N 10°19′35″E / 36.8439°N 10.3264°E / 36.8439; 10.3264
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