Carthage was a city that is believed to have been founded around 814 BCE (Before our Common Era) in what is today known as Tunisia. It was situated on the east side of Lake Tunis, which provided it with water and an effective transort system. The city was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 146 BCE. Along with its power and infrastructure, the Romans also destroyed the records of its history and culture. This has made it a mysterious city to modern researchers, who have to rely on evidence that has been excavated, Roman legend and the research conducted by Greek and Roman historians, such as Herodotus.
The legend of Carthage has been carried down from the Romans, who claim that the city was established by Queen Dido, who led it to greatness. This power and prestige did not put Carthage in the favour of the Greeks and Romans, who vied for such authority. There were many wars between these nations. This means, therefore, that the reports from these nations are not very objective or positive. In short, Carthage was conquered only during Rome’s third attempt at victory in 146 BCE. Rome did not leave it destitute, though. Rather, it made it one of the prominent cities. It was only when the Muslims overtook Rome in 698 CE (Common Era) that Carthage was finally destroyed.
Surviving up until 698 of our Common Era means that Carthage was one of the longest-living empires. It was also one of the biggest civilisations in the annals of history. The strength of the Carthaginian army was based largely on the ethnic soldiers that hailed from Libya and Numidia. With these troops, mercenaries from other Mediterranean areas ensured that the Carthaginian army was a formidable force that managed to defeat Rome’s impressive forces twice, before finally succumbing. Interestingly, Carthage made use of North African Elephants (now extinct) in battle, which reinforced their frightening presentation.
It was Scipio Aemilianus who eventually conquered this great power. The Roman troops burned the Phoenician ships right in the Carthage harbour, before all of the local inhabitants. Then, they went from one house to the next, enslaving the locals, before they burnt the entire city and all of its buildings and homes.
Utica was made the capital of the area that was the fallen Carthage, and was very successful in terms of trade and political power. Its plentiful water supply meant optimal farming conditions, but the silt and erosion caused by the farming in the mountains eventually made the region unable to be cultivated and the harbour too damaged to be used. Rome was forced to rebuild the entire harbour.
The natives from Carthage spoke a type of Phoenician called Punic. They conducted much of their trade with Iberian cities. They dealt in silver, lead and tin, which they used to manufacture bronze products. One Iberian mine was able to provide 300 Roman Pounds of silver every day. Carthage produced Purple, as well as embroidered and dyed cotton, linen, wool, silk and incense, perfumes, etc…In addition, Carthage produced jewellery, weapons, implements and excellent quality wine.
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