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A map of the middle of the Mediterranean Sea
Roman theatre, in Carthage

Carthage was an ancient city-state in what is now Tunisia. It began as a Phoenician colony.[1] At the height of its power, Carthage was the most important power in the Mediterranean and controlled parts of Spain, as well as Sicily, North Africa, and Sardinia.

The Roman Republic destroyed Carthage during the Punic Wars of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. In later centuries, Rome started a colony in the same place that became an important city of Africa Province. Eventually, the Vandals conquered the city and used it to attack Rome.

Punic Wars[change | change source]

Carthage was a rival in the western Mediterranean for the Roman Republic,[2] which wanted to take over the whole region. Carthage was a large obstacle and so in 264 BC, the Romans responded to a plea for help by some rebels in Messina and landed an army in Sicily. That started the First Punic War. The Romans then invaded the Carthaginian areas in Sicily, and the Carthaginian generals could not stop them. Even at sea, the Romans copied the Carthaginian bireme ships, with two oars on each side, and won several major victories on the sea. However, the Romans had not been a sea power, which the Carthaginians had been.

Finally, a general, Hamilcar Barca, took up to defend the Carthaginians and replaced of the older and less energetic Hanno. Hamilcar immediately realized the futility of meeting the superior Roman army in open battle and so he decided to use hit-and-run raids to wear down the Romans. That tactic was slightly more effective against the slow heavily-armored roman troops. Eventually, however, the Romans took Lilybaeum, the Carthaginians' main stronghold in Sicily. That ended Carthage's power in Sicily and ended the First Punic War.[3]

During the Second Punic War, Hannibal Barca led the Carthaginian Army through Spain, southern Gaul and across the Alps into Italy in 218 BC.[4] There, he clashed with and stunningly defeated the Romans in three major battles: the Battle of the River Trebia, the Battle of Lake Trasmine, and the Battle of Cannae.[4] He failed, however, to take Rome and eventually had to retreat to Carthage, where he was defeated by Scipio Africanis at the Battle of Zama.[4]

The Romans destroyed Carthage in 146 BC during the Third Punic War. The Carthaginians who survived, numbering about 50,000, were mostly sold into slavery.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. "History of Carthage". HistoryWorld. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  2. "Carthage". Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  3. "Carthage". Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Punic Wars". History/A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 8 January 2016.