Ancient World /
Reconstruction of 2nd century CE Carthage - the Roman city.
The field of child sacrifice at Carthage.
Launching ramp for sea vessels at the old Punic port.
Statuettes of Baal and Bes. From Carthaginian era.
Phoenician: qart hadasht
Ancient state of North Africa, and at times including European territory in the southwestern part of the Mediterranean basin, lasting from about the 9th century BCE to 146 BCE. From the 8th century until the 3rd century BCE, Carthage was the dominant power in the western half of the Mediterranean.
The state took its name from the city of Carthage, lying on the coast, 10 km from today's Tunis, Tunisia. Carthage had been founded in the 9th century by Phoenician traders of Tyre. Carthage had two first class harbours, and therefore an advantage with respect to the most effective means of transportation at that time, the sea. The Carthaginians soon developed high skills in the building of ships and used this to dominate the seas for centuries. The most important merchandise was silver, lead, ivory and gold, beds and bedding, simple, cheap pottery, jewellery, glassware, wild animals from Africa, fruit and nuts.
Carthage fought the Greeks and the Romans for control over territories. Campaigns against the Greeks lasted for a period of more than 200 years, resulting in success for Carthage.
The wars against Rome are called the Punic Wars, and involve three periods of wartime, between 264 and 146 BCE. Every one of these three ended in defeat for the Carthaginians, but following the first two, Carthage soon returned to its former glory and importance. In the third war, vindictive Romans destroyed Carthage as an independent power.
We have few sources for everyday life of the Carthaginians. Their religion had Baal and Tanit as central gods, but there were also elements from Greek religion, specifically, the goddesses, Demeter and Persephone. Carthaginian religious ritual invovled human sacrifice.
814 BCE: According to one story, the year when Carthage was founded by Phoenician traders from Tyre in today's Lebanon. Legends tell that it was founded by Queen Dido, who fled her homeland. The exactness of the year 814 might be legendary as well.
7th century: With the establishment of Greek trading colonies in Sicily, the position of Carthage is placed in jeopardy, and a conflict is inevitable.
6th century: Carthage conquers the territory of Libyan tribes and old Phoenician colonies and takes control over the North African coast, stretching from today's Morocco to the borders of today's Egypt, not to mention, Sardinia, Malta, the Balearic Islands, and the western half of Sardinia.
480: Battle against the Greeks in Sicily, resulting in a Carthaginian defeat.
450: Hamilco reaches the British Isles.
425: Hanno sails down the West African coast.
396: A new defeat for Carthage by the Greeks of Sicily. Domestic upheavals follow.
310: Attack on Carthaginian mainland by the Greek king of Syracuse. Three years of plundering followed.
264: First Punic War against Rome begins, largely focused around Sicily.
241: End of first Punic War. The war results in losses in the east and the surrender of the Carthaginian fleet. However, Carthage retains large areas in southern Spain, even if Spain now is divided into spheres of interest.
218: Second Punic War begins, after Hannibal moves into the Roman sphere of influence in Spain. This war involves the famous campaign of elephants crossing the Alps by Hannibal.
201: After many early victories, fatigue destroys the Carthaginians, and the peace with Rome is a humiliating one, resulting in significant reductions in territory and elimination of the Carthaginian military fleet.
149: The third Punic War takes the form of a Roman campaign against Carthage, motivated by fear and jealousy more than real military assessment.
146: Thousands of Carthaginians suffer a horrible death, Carthage is burned almost totally to the ground, and strict regulations regarding further settlements are imposed on the remaining population.
29 CE: Roman emperor Augustus founds Colonia Julia Carthago, a city that once again proved the skills and the power of the people of this region. Within a few years it prospered, and soon rivaled Rome in splendor and wealth.
439: The Vandal king Gaiseric occupies Carthage, and makes it his capital.
637: Carthage is captured by the Arabs, and destroyed, and has since then never regained its importance, much due to the concentration of power in nearby Tunis.
669: New Arab Muslim attack on Carthage.