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Transcript of CARTHAGE
The Carthaginian Empire existed to defend, and was economically dependent on, its commerce. Carthage’s wealth was based on trade, mainly primary products and perishables which make it difficult to trace archaeologically. The most profitable of Carthage’s trades were in metals, such as silver and tin from Spain and gold form Africa.
Carthage was a very powerful city state in what we now know as Tunisia, Africa. At the height of the Empire, Carthage controlled much of the Mediterranean Sea due to it's unmatched navy. The word Carthage means ‘New City’ in Phoenician. Phoenicia, the Empire Carthage originated from is on the coasts of Lebanon and Syria. It was originally set up as a trading port but soon developed into the greatest power in the Mediterranean.
Its location on a peninsula meant that it was readily defended from mainland assault. The sea and tall walls formed a fortification very hard to breach. About 700 000 people lived in Carthage, although many of them lived outside the city walls. The double ports of Carthage, known as the 'cothon' were a defining characteristic of the city. Two large, artificial harbors were built within the city, one for the city's huge navy of 220 warships and the other for mercantile trade.
By 265 BC, Carthage was the wealthiest and most advanced city in the region, as well as the leading naval power in the Mediterranean due to the huge size of its navy and the advanced organisation of the naval base.
The City of Carthage
Carthaginian religion was very primitive. It was a polytheistic system headed by a male deity Baal Hammon (identified by the Romans with Saturn in their system). The practice of infant sacrifice among other primal features continued in Carthage long after they died out in Phoenicia. Roman and Greek gods and religion became prominent following interaction through trade.
218BC - 201BC
149BC - 146BC
264BC - 241BC
The Second Punic War
218BC - 201BC
After this disastrous defeat the Romans managed to rebound, and the Carthaginians lost hold in Italy as Rome won victories in Spain and North Africa under the rising young general Publius Cornelius Scipio (later known as Scipio Africanus). In 203BC, Hannibal’s forces left Italy to defend North Africa. Hannibal’s losses in the Second Punic War put an end to Carthage’s empire in the western Mediterranean, leaving Rome in control of Spain and allowing Carthage to only retain its territory in North Africa. Carthage was also forced to give up its fleet and pay a large amount of silver to Rome.
The Third Punic War
149BC - 146BC
"Carthage must be destroyed."
According to legend, following the death of her father, King of Tyre, Dido's brother killed her wealthy husband. Dido, also known as Alissa, knowing how dangerous Tyre was with her brother still alive, fled, and ended up in Carthage. Dido bartered with the locals, offering a substantial amount of her wealth in exchange for what she could contain within the skin of a bull. When they agreed to what they believed was an exchange to their advantage, Dido showed how clever she really was. She cut the hide into strips and laid it out in a semi-circle with the sea forming the other side. Dido then ruled Carthage as queen.
, the Trojan prince Aeneas met Dido on his way from Troy to Lavinium. When he left her to fulfill his destiny, Dido was devastated and committed suicide.
The First Punic War
264BC - 241BC
In 264BC, Rome decided to intervene in a dispute on the north eastern coast of the island of Sicily between , and the struggle soon exploded into a direct conflict between the two powers, with control of Sicily at stake. For the next 10 years most of the fighting was in Sicily. The young Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca stopped the Romans taking control of the island.
Over nearly 20 years, Rome rebuilt its entire fleet of 200 ships in order to confront Carthage’s more powerful navy. Though its invasion of North Africa that same year ended in defeat, Rome refused to give up, and in 241BC the Roman fleet won a victory against the Carthaginians at sea, ending their famous naval superiority. At the end of the First Punic War, Sicily became Rome’s first overseas province.
Upon defeat, the Carthaginians agreed to:
- evacuate from Sicily and let the Romans have the island
- give the Romans 3200 talents of silver (about $21 million in present money)
Within months, Rome had also taken the islands of Corsica and Sardinia from a weakened Carthage.
The Carthaginian Lifestyle
Which historical figures influenced Carthage?
Image of Carthage showing the complex double ports used for trade and the navy
Dido and the founding of Carthage
The tale of Dido and Aeneas is one of the most famous love stories of all time. Henry Purcell wrote an Opera in 1688 telling of this star crossed love affair.
The Punic Wars
The three Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome took place over nearly a century, beginning in 264 BC and ending with the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC. ‘Punic’ was the adjective used by the Romans to refer to Carthage.
The collision which brought about the Punic Wars was completely accidental. Neither party used the original collision as a pretext for a predetermined war. Both Rome and Carthage were equally responsible for the drift into war.
Hannibal and his Elephants
Hannibal, son of Hamilcar Barca, 248BC – 183BC, was a Carthaginian military commander and tactician who is popularly credited as one of the most talented commanders in history. He was innovative and strategic in his battle plans. Notable examples of this are the route he took to Rome and his use of elephants in battle. Hannibal is remembered as one of the most brutal leaders in history, never shying from bloodshed.
Carthage was able to expand territory into Spain beginning in 237BC, under the leadership of the powerful general Hamilcar Barca. Hamilcar Barca made his son Hannibal swear a blood oath against Rome when he was a young boy. After the death of his father Hannibal took command of Carthaginian forces in Spain. Two years later, he marched his army into Saguntum, a city under Roman protection, and in doing so declared war on Rome. Hannibal and his troops, including as many as 90,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry and 37 elephants, marched from Spain across the Alps and into Italy, where they scored many victories over Roman troops. Hannibal’s invasion of Rome reached its height at Cannae in 216 BC, where his cavalry surrounded a Roman army twice the size of his own and saw massive casualties to Roman forces..
In 149BC a Roman ally in Africa, Masinissa, continuously attacked Carthaginian territory. The Carthaginians were unable to fight back because it would break the treaty they had made with Rome at the end of the Second Punic War. A powerful ex consul in the Roman Senate, Marcus Porcius Cato, finished all his speeches with the words, "Carthage must be destroyed." The Senate agreed and when Carthage fought back against Masinissa in protecting its own territory, the Romans declared war on Carthage.
After fighting for two years, Scipio Aemilianus, the adopted grandson of Scipio Africanus (who defeated Hannibal's army), was given control. The next year his army broke through the city's fortifications and, after a week of fighting in the streets of the city, the Romans took control of Carthage. The sold the remaining Carthaginians as slaves and completely destroyed the city. The called the this the province of Africa.
- Carthage, 1996, New World Encyclopedia, London, accessed 8 June 2014, <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Special:Cite?page=Carthage>.
- ‘Carthage’ 1980, in The Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations, The Rainbird Publishing Group, New York, vol. 1, pp. 233-239.
- Conroy, J, Ennis, G & Low, A 1994, Ancient Quest, The Jacaranda Press, Milton, QLD.
- Entwistle, D 2010, Tunis Carthage Museum Representation of City, Illustration,Tunis Museum, accessed 6 June 2014, <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carthage_National_Museum_representation_of_city.jpg>.
- Hannibal's elephants 2007, BBC, London, 29 October, Youtube.
- History Channel Staff, O 2009, ‘Punic Wars’, History Channel, accessed 6 June 2014, <http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/punic-wars>.
- Nguyen, M 2005, Head Man of Carthage, Sculpture, Louvre Museum, accessed 6 June 2014, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Carthage#mediaviewer/File:Head_man_Carthage_Louvre_AO3783.jpg>.
- Warmington, B 1993, Carthage, A History, Barnes and Noble, Inc., New York.
Which historical figures influenced Carthage?
Carthage had a great influence upon the Mediterranean and particularly the Roman Empire. Even as far back as its establishment, the links between Carthage and various countries are evident, such as Dido's Phoenician ancestry as Princess of Tyre and Aeneas' associations with Italy and Troy.
Through the Punic Wars, Carthage was further influenced by both Romans and its own people. Hamilcar and Hannibal highlight the successes of Carthage through military strategy and innovation. On the other hand, the Third Punic War accented the Romans' plight for power, especially through the words of Cato, "Carthage must be destroyed".
The naming of the province Africa following the large contribution of Scipio Africanus and his grandson, Scipio Aemilianus to the Roman cause during the Punic Wars shows that even now the historical figures who influenced Carthage continue to be recognised by us today.
Government and Defence Force
Carthage was ruled by an oligarchy, a group of wealthy nobles who were successful merchants and landowners, who maintained the business like structure of the Empire. Every decision they made was determined by commercial interests.
Carthage relied on a large fleet manned by its own citizens to protect it's commercial vessels and its spheres of influence. Unlike the navy, the army was recruited from other states and from mercenaries (soldiers) who fought only for money and therefore were a potential danger.
Carthage after the Punic Wars
By the end of the third Punic War in 146BC, Carthage had been destroyed and left a smoking ruin. Its fields were sown with salt to sterilise the soil so the city could not become powerful again.
Under the Roman Empire, it became very wealthy and contained even more people than before. In 533AD, Carthage was captured by Belisarius, a Byzantine general. It remained a Christian Byzantine stronghold until 698AD when it was destroyed by Muslim conquerors.
There are very few remains of the ancient Carthage. A few Punic cemeteries, shrines, and fortifications have been discovered although most of the ruins that remain are from the Roman period, including baths, an amphitheater and aqueducts. The Lavigérie Museum at the site holds many artifacts from the ruins.