Carthage was a powerful ancient city-state and commercial center located on the coast of North Africa, in what is present-day Tunisia. It was one of the most significant and influential cities of the ancient world, serving as the capital of the powerful Carthaginian civilization.
Carthage | History
Foundation and Early Growth | 9th – 6th centuries BC
Carthage was founded in the ninth century BC by Phoenician settlers from the city of Tyre, led by Queen Elissa, also known as Dido. Its strategic location on the coast of North Africa made it a thriving center for trade and commerce in the central Mediterranean.
Expansion and Commercial Dominance | 6th – 3rd centuries BC
Carthage rapidly expanded its influence through maritime trade, establishing colonies and trading posts across the Mediterranean. The city’s economic power was built on a strong navy, merchant fleet, and control over key trade routes.
Punic Wars | 264-146 BC
Carthage’s rivalry with Rome, fueled by competition for dominance in the Mediterranean, led to a series of conflicts known as the Punic Wars.
- First Punic War | 264-241 BC
The First Punic War primarily involved naval warfare, with Rome ultimately gaining control over Sicily.
- Second Punic War | 218-201 BC
The Second Punic War witnessed the famous Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca’s daring military campaigns, including his famous crossing of the Alps and victories at battles like Cannae. Despite these successes, Rome eventually prevailed.
- Third Punic War | 149-146 BC
The third and final Punic War resulted in the complete destruction of Carthage by the Romans. The city was razed, and its inhabitants were either killed or enslaved.
Roman Control and Reconstruction | 146 BC
Carthage was reduced to ruins after the Third Punic War, ant he site was famously “cursed” by the Romans who sowed salt to symbolize its permanent desolation. In 122 BC, Rome established the province of Africa, which included the former territory of Carthage. The area became an important Roman province.
Later Period | 1st century BC – 7th century AD
The site of Carthage saw some level of reconstruction under Roman rule, with new structures and infrastructure being built. In the fourth century AD, the Roman Empire underwent significant changes, and Christianity became the dominant religion. Carthage played a role in early Christian history and was the location of important Christian councils.
Byzantine and Arab Periods | 7th century AD onward
Carthage continued to exist through the Byzantine period, but it faced further decline with the Arab Muslim conquest in the seventh century. The city lost its prominence as a major urban center but remained a significant historical and archaeological site.
Rediscovery and Archaeological Exploration
In the modern era, Carthage became a subject of interest for historians and archaeologists. The site has been extensively excavated, revealing a wealth of information about the ancient city’s layout, structures, and daily life.
Today the ruins of Carthage stands as a testament to its ancient glory and the impact of the Punic Wars on the course of history in the Mediterranean. The archaeological site is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Claris et Laris | 1268
La Tavola Ritonda | 1325–1350