Carthage: Wikis


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Site of Carthage*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ruines de Carthage.jpg
State Party  Tunisia
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, vi
Reference 37
Region** Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1979  (3rd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Carthaginian Empire

Carthage (Arabic: قرطاج Qarṭāj‎, Ancient GreekΚαρχηδών Karkhēdōn, Berber: ⴽⴰⵔⵜⴰⵊⴻⵏ Kartajen, Hebrew: קרתגוkartago, Latin: Carthago or Karthago, from the Phoenician Qart-ḥadašt קרת חדשת meaning New City, implying it was a 'new Tyre'[1]) refers to a series of cities on the Gulf of Tunis, from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BCE to the current suburb outside Tunis, Tunisia.

The first civilization that developed within the city's sphere of influence is referred to as Punic (a form of the word "Phoenician") or Carthaginian. The city of Carthage is located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the centre of Tunis. According to Roman legend it was founded in 814 BCE by Phoenician colonists from Tyre under the leadership of Elissa (Queen Dido). It became a large and rich city and thus a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other's homeland. Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War culminated in the Carthaginian victory at Cannae and led to a serious threat to the continuation of Roman rule over Italy; however, Carthage emerged from the conflict at its historical weakest. After the Third Punic War, the city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BCE. However, the Romans refounded Carthage, which became one of the three most important cities of the Empire and the capital of the short-lived Vandal kingdom. It remained one of the most important Roman cities until the Muslim conquest when it was destroyed a second time in CE 698.


Carthage seen from Spot Satellite

Carthage was built on a promontory with inlets to the sea to the north and south. The city's location made it master of the Mediterranean's maritime trade. All ships crossing the sea had to pass between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia, where Carthage was built, affording it great power and influence.

Two large, artificial harbors were built within the city, one for harboring the city's massive navy of 220 warships and the other for mercantile trade. A walled tower overlooked both harbors.

The city had massive walls, 23 miles (37 kilometres) in length, longer than the walls of comparable cities. Most of the walls were located on the shore and thus could be less impressive, as Carthaginian control of the sea made attack from that direction difficult. The 2.5 to 3 miles (4 to 4.8 kilometres) of wall on the isthmus to the west were truly large and, in fact, were never penetrated.

The city had a huge necropolis or burial ground, religious area, market places, council house, towers and a theatre and was divided into four equally-sized residential areas with the same layout. Roughly in the middle of the city stood a high citadel called the Byrsa. It was one of the largest cities in Hellenistic times (by some estimates only Alexandria was larger) and was among the largest cities in pre-industrial history.


Layout of the city.

The historical study of Carthage is problematic. Because its culture and records were destroyed by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War, very few Carthaginian primary historical sources survive. While there are a few ancient translations of Punic texts into Greek and Latin, as well as inscriptions on monuments and buildings discovered in North Africa,[2] the main sources are Greek and Roman historians, including Livy, Polybius, Appian, Cornelius Nepos, Silius Italicus, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, and Herodotus. These writers belonged to peoples in competition, and often in conflict, with Carthage.[3] Greek cities contested with Carthage for Sicily,[4] and the Romans fought three wars against Carthage.[5] Not surprisingly, their accounts of Carthage are extremely hostile; while there are a few Greek authors who took a favorable view, these works have been lost.[6]

Recent excavation has brought much more primary material to light. Some of these finds contradict aspects of the traditional picture of Carthage, and much of the material is still ambiguous.


Legends of the foundation

Queen Elissa (Dido)


According to Roman sources, Phoenician colonists led by Queen Dido (Elissa) founded Carthage in 814 BCE. Queen Elissa (also known as "Alissar", and by the Arabic name[7] اليسار also اليسا and عليسا), was an exiled princess of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. At its peak, the metropolis she founded, Carthage, came to be called the "shining city," ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean and leading the Phoenician (or Punic) world.

Elissa's brother, King Pygmalion of Tyre, had murdered her husband, the high priest. Elissa escaped the tyranny of her own country and founded the "new city" of Carthage and subsequently its later dominions. Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, but the following can be deduced from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Matten of Tyre (also known as Muttoial or Belus II). When he died, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother, Pygmalion. She married her uncle Acherbas (also known as Sychaeus) the High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the king. This furthered rivalry between religion and the monarchy. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue, who desired the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acherbas. Pygmalion assassinated Acherbas in the temple and kept the misdeed concealed from his sister for a long time, deceiving her with lies about her husband's death. At the same time, the people of Tyre called for a single sovereign, causing dissent within the royal family.

The mention of Queen Elissa (Dido) in Virgil's Aeneid

In the Roman epic of Virgil, the Aeneid, Queen Dido, the Greek name for Queen Elissa, is first introduced as an extremely respected character. In just seven years, since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians have rebuilt a successful kingdom under her rule. Her subjects adore her and present her with a festival of praise. Her character is perceived by Virgil as even more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who have recently escaped from Troy. A spirit in the form of the messenger god, Mercury, sent by Jupiter, reminds Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. Virgil ends his legend of Dido with the story that, when Aeneas tells Dido, her heart broken, she orders a pyre to be built where she falls upon Aeneas' sword. As she lay dying, she predicted eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own: "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" (4.625, trans. Fitzgerald) she says, an obvious invocation of Hannibal.

Carthaginian Republic

Carthaginian Empire in the 3rd century BCE

The Carthaginian Republic was one of the longest-lived and largest states in the ancient Mediterranean. Reports relay several wars with Syracuse and finally, Rome, which eventually resulted in the defeat and destruction of Carthage in the third Punic war.


According to Polybius, Carthage relied heavily, though not exclusively, on foreign mercenaries,[8] especially in overseas warfare. The core of its army was from its own territory in Africa (ethnic Libyans and Numidians, as well as "Liby-Phoenicians" — i.e. Punics proper). These troops were supported by mercenaries from different ethnic groups and geographic locations across the Mediterranean who fought in their own national units; Celtic, Balearic, and Iberian troops were especially common. Later, after the Barcid conquest of Iberia, Iberians came to form an even greater part of the Carthaginian forces. Carthage seems to have fielded a formidable cavalry force, especially in its African homeland; a significant part of it was composed of Numidian contingents of light cavalry. Other mounted troops included the now extinct North African elephants, trained for war, which, amongst other uses, were commonly used for frontal assaults or as anti-cavalry protection. An army could field up to several hundreds of these animals, but on most reported occasions fewer than a hundred were deployed. The riders of these elephants were armed with a spike and hammer to kill the elephants in case they charged toward their own army.


Roman trireme mosaic from Carthage, Bardo Museum, Tunis

The navy of Carthage was one of the largest in the Mediterranean, using serial production to maintain high numbers at moderate cost. The sailors and marines of the Carthaginian navy were predominantly recruited from the Punic citizenry, unlike the multi-national allied and mercenary troops of the Carthaginian armies. The navy offered a stable profession and financial security for its sailors. This helped to contribute to the city's political stability, since the unemployed, debt ridden poor in other cities were frequently inclined to support revolutionary leaders in the hope of improving their own lot.[9] The reputation of her skilled sailors implies that there was in peacetime a training of oarsmen and coxswains, giving their navy a cutting edge in naval matters. The trade of Carthaginian merchantmen was by land across the Sahara and especially by sea throughout the Mediterranean and far into the Atlantic to the tin-rich islands of Britain and to West Africa. There is evidence that at least one Punic expedition under Hanno sailed along the West African coast to regions south of the Equator, describing how the sun was in the north at noon.

Polybius wrote in the sixth book of his History that the Carthaginians were "more exercised in maritime affairs than any other people."[10] Their navy included some 300 to 350 warships. The Romans, who had little experience in naval warfare prior to the First Punic War, managed to finally defeat Carthage with a combination of reverse engineering captured Carthaginian ships, recruitment of experienced Greek sailors from the ranks of its conquered cities, the unorthodox corvus device, and their superior numbers in marines and rowers. In the Third Punic War Polybius describes a tactical innovation of the Carthaginians, augmenting their few triremes with small vessels that carried hooks (to attack the oars) and fire (to attack the hulls). With this new combination, they were able to stand their ground against the superior Roman numbers for a whole day.


Ruins of Carthage

The fall of Carthage came at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BCE.[11] In spite of the initial devastating Roman naval losses at the beginning of the series of conflicts and Rome's recovery from the brink of defeat after the terror of a 15-year occupation of much of Italy by Hannibal, the end of the series of wars resulted in the end of Carthaginian power and the complete destruction of the city by Scipio Aemilianus. The Romans pulled the Phoenician warships out into the harbor and burned them before the city, and went from house to house, capturing, raping and enslaving the people. Fifty thousand Carthaginians were sold into slavery.[12] The city was set ablaze, and in this way was razed with only ruins and rubble to field the aftermath. After the fall of Carthage, Rome annexed the majority of the Carthaginian colonies, including other North African locations such as Volubilis, Lixus, Chellah, and Mogador.[13] The legend that the city was sown with salt has no basis in the ancient sources; it seems to have originated in the late 19th century as a reflection of Abimelech's salting of Shechem in Judges 9:45.[14][15]

A city of survivors


District of punic Byrsa

On the top of the Byrsa hill, location of the Roman Forum, was unearthed a residential area from the last century of existence of the Punic city, more precisely from the early second century. It was excavated by the French archaeologist Serge Lancel. This site is an interesting alternative for those who cannot go to the more extensive ruins at Kerkuane (Punic city of Cape Bon). The neighborhood between houses and shops and private spaces is particularly significant [16].

The habitat is typical, even stereotypical. The street may be used as a store; a tank is installed in the basement to collect water for domestic use, and a long corridor on the right side leads to a courtyard containing a sump, around which various other elements may be found. In some places the ground is covered with mosaics called punica pavement, sometimes using a characteristic red mortar.

The remains have been preserved through the embankments, substructures of the later Roman substructures forum, whose foundation piles dot the district. The housing blocks are separated by a grid of straight streets of a width of approximately six metres, with a roadway consisting of clay. We also note in situ stairs to compensate for the fall of the hill. Construction of this type presupposes organization and political will, and has inspired the name of the neighborhood, "Hannibal district", referring to the Punic general or Suffete at the beginning of the second century BCE.

Roman Carthage

Roman Carthage

When Carthage fell, its nearby rival Utica, a Roman ally, was made capital of the region and replaced Carthage as the leading center of Punic trade and leadership. It had the advantageous position of being situated on the Lake of Tunis and the outlet of the Majardah River, Tunisia's only river that flowed all year long. However, grain cultivation in the Tunisian mountains caused large amounts of silt to erode into the river. This silt was accumulated in the harbor until it was made useless, and Rome was forced to rebuild Carthage.

By 122 BCE, Gaius Gracchus founded a short-lived colonia, called Colonia Iunonia, after the Latin name for the punic goddess Tanit, Iuno caelestis. The purpose was to obtain arable lands for impoverished farmers. The Senate abolished the colony some time later, in order to undermine Gracchus' power. After this ill-fated attempt, a new city of Carthage was built on the same land by Julius Caesar in 49-44 BCE period, and by the 1st century it had grown to the second largest city in the western half of the Roman empire, with a peak population of 500,000[citation needed]. It was the center of the Roman province of Africa, which was a major breadbasket of the empire.

Carthage also became a centre of early Christianity. In the first of a string of rather poorly reported Councils at Carthage a few years later, no fewer than seventy bishops attended. Tertullian later broke with the mainstream that was represented more and more by the bishop of Rome, but a more serious rift among Christians was the Donatist controversy, which Augustine of Hippo spent much time and parchment arguing against. In 397 at the Council at Carthage, the biblical canon for the western Church was confirmed.

Vandal Empire in CE 500, centered in Carthage.

The political fallout from the deep disaffection of African Christians is supposedly a crucial factor in the ease with which Carthage and the other centres were captured in the 5th century by Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, who defeated the Roman general Bonifacius and made the city his capital. Gaiseric was considered a heretic too, an Arian, and though Arians commonly despised Catholic Christians, a mere promise of toleration might have caused the city's population to accept him. After a failed attempt to recapture the city in the 5th century, the Byzantines finally subdued the Vandals in the 6th century.

During the emperor Maurice's reign, Carthage was made into an Exarchate, as was Ravenna in Italy. These two exarchates were the western bulwarks of Byzantium, all that remained of its power in the west. In the early 7th century, it was the Exarch of Carthage, Heraclius (of Armenian origin), who overthrew Emperor Phocas.

Islamic Carthage

The Byzantine Exarchate was not, however, able to withstand the Muslim conquerors of the 7th century. Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik in CE 686 sent a force led by Zuhayr ibn Qais who won a battle over Byzantines and Berbers led by Kusaila, on the Qairawan plain, but could not follow that up. In CE 695 Hasan ibn al-Nu'man captured Carthage and advanced into the Atlas Mountains. A Byzantine fleet arrived and retook Carthage, but in CE 698 Hasan ibn al-Nu'man returned and defeated Tiberios III at the Battle of Carthage. The Byzantines withdrew from all of Africa except Ceuta. The Roman Carthage was destroyed, just as the Romans had done in 146 BCE. Carthage was replaced by Tunis as the major regional centre. The destruction of the Exarchate of Africa marked a permanent end to Roman or Byzantine influence there, as the rising tide of Islam took root.



Carthaginians spoke Punic, a variety of Phoenician.


Carthaginian port

Carthaginian commerce was by sea throughout the Mediterranean and far into the Atlantic and by land across the Sahara desert. According to Aristotle, the Carthaginians and others had treaties of commerce to regulate their exports and imports.[17]

The empire of Carthage depended heavily on its trade with Tartessos and other cities of the Iberian peninsula, from which it obtained vast quantities of silver, lead, and, even more importantly, tin ore, which was essential for the manufacture of bronze objects by the civilizations of antiquity. Its trade relations with the Iberians and the naval might that enforced Carthage's monopoly on trade with tin-rich Britain and the Canary Islands allowed it to be the sole significant broker of tin and maker of bronze. Maintaining this monopoly was one of the major sources of power and prosperity for Carthage, and a Carthaginian merchant would rather crash his ship upon the rocky shores of Britain than reveal to any rival how it could be safely approached. In addition to being the sole significant distributor of tin, its central location in the Mediterranean and control of the waters between Sicily and Tunisia allowed it to control the eastern nations' supply of tin. Carthage was also the Mediterranean's largest producer of silver, mined in Iberia and the North African coast, and, after the tin monopoly, this was one of its most profitable trades. One mine in Iberia provided Hannibal with 300 Roman pounds(3,75 talents) of silver a day.[18]

Carthage's economy began as an extension of that of its parent city, Tyre. Its massive merchant fleet traversed the trade routes mapped out by Tyre, and Carthage inherited from Tyre the art of making the extremely valuable dye Tyrian Purple. It was one of the most highly-valued commodities in the ancient Mediterranean, being worth fifteen to twenty times its weight in gold. High Roman officials could only afford togas with a small stripe of it. Carthage also produced a less-valuable crimson pigment from the cochineal.

Carthage produced finely embroidered and dyed textiles of cotton, linen, wool, and silk, artistic and functional pottery, faience, incense, and perfumes. Its artisans worked with glass, wood, alabaster, ivory, bronze, brass, lead, gold, silver, and precious stones to create a wide array of goods, including mirrors, highly-admired furniture and cabinetry, beds, bedding, and pillows, jewelry, arms, implements, and household items. It traded in salted Atlantic fish and fish sauce, and brokered the manufactured, agricultural, and natural products of almost every Mediterranean people.

Punic pendant in the form of a bearded head, 4th3rd century BCE.

In addition to manufacturing, Carthage practiced highly advanced and productive agriculture, using iron ploughs, irrigation, and crop rotation. Mago wrote a famous treatise on agriculture which the Romans ordered translated after Carthage was captured. After the Second Punic War, Hannibal promoted agriculture to help restore Carthage's economy and pay the war indemnity to Rome (10000 talents or 800,000 Roman pounds of silver[19]), and he was largely successful.

Carthage produced wine, which was highly prized in Rome, Etruria (the Etruscans), and Greece. Rome was a major consumer of raisin wine, a Carthaginian specialty. Fruits, nuts, grain, grapes, dates, and olives were grown, and olive oil was exported in competition with Greece. Carthage also raised fine horses, similar to today's Arabian horses, which were greatly prized and exported.

Carthage's merchant ships, which surpassed even those of the cities of the Levant, visited every major port of the Mediterranean, Britain, the coast of Africa, and the Canary Islands. These ships were able to carry over 100 tons of goods. The commercial fleet of Carthage was comparable in size and tonnage to the fleets of major European powers in the 18th century.

Merchants at first favored the ports of the east: Egypt, the Levant, Greece, Cyprus, and Asia Minor. But after Carthage's control of Sicily brought it into conflict with Greek colonists, it established commercial relations in the western Mediterranean, including trade with the Etruscans.

Carthage also sent caravans into the interior of Africa and Persia. It traded its manufactured and agricultural goods to the coastal and interior peoples of Africa for salt, gold, timber, ivory, ebony, apes, peacocks, skins, and hides. Its merchants invented the practice of sale by auction and used it to trade with the African tribes. In other ports, they tried to establish permanent warehouses or sell their goods in open-air markets. They obtained amber from Scandinavia and tin from the Canary Islands. From the Celtiberians, Gauls, and Celts, they obtained amber, tin, silver, and furs. Sardinia and Corsica produced gold and silver for Carthage, and Phoenician settlements on islands such as Malta and the Balearic Islands produced commodities that would be sent back to Carthage for large-scale distribution. Carthage supplied poorer civilizations with simple things, such as pottery, metallic products, and ornamentations, often displacing the local manufacturing, but brought its best works to wealthier ones such as the Greeks and Etruscans. Carthage traded in almost every commodity wanted by the ancient world, including spices from Arabia, Africa and India, and slaves (the empire of Carthage temporarily held a portion of Europe and sent conquered white warriors into Northern African slavery.)

These trade ships went all the way down the Atlantic coast of Africa to Senegal and Nigeria. One account has a Carthaginian trading vessel exploring Nigeria, including identification of distinguishing geographic features such as a coastal volcano and an encounter with gorillas (See Hanno the Navigator). Irregular trade exchanges occurred as far west as Madeira and the Canary Islands, and as far south as southern Africa. Carthage also traded with India by traveling through the Red Sea and the perhaps-mythical lands of Ophir (India/Arabia?) and Punt, which may be present-day Somalia.

Archaeological finds show evidence of all kinds of exchanges, from the vast quantities of tin needed for a bronze-based metals civilization to all manner of textiles, ceramics and fine metalwork. Before and in between the wars, Carthaginian merchants were in every port in the Mediterranean, buying and selling, establishing warehouses where they could, or just bargaining in open-air markets after getting off their ships.

The Etruscan language has not yet been deciphered, but archaeological excavations of Etruscan cities show that the Etruscan civilization was for several centuries a customer and a vendor to Carthage, long before the rise of Rome. The Etruscan city-states were, at times, both commercial partners of Carthage and military allies.


Punic district of Carthage

The government of Carthage was an oligarchal republic, which relied on a system of checks and balances and ensured a form of public accountability. The Carthaginian heads of state were called Suffets (thus rendered in Latin by Livy 30.7.5, attested in Punic inscriptions as SPΘM /ʃuftˤim/, meaning "judges" and obviously related to the Biblical Hebrew ruler title Shophet "Judge"). Greek and Roman authors more commonly referred to them as "kings". SPΘ /ʃufitˤ/ might originally have been the title of the city's governor, installed by the mother city of Tyre. In the historically attested period, the two Suffets were elected annually from among the most wealthy and influential families and ruled collegially, similarly to Roman consuls (and equated with these by Livy). This practice might have descended from the plutocratic oligarchies that limited the Suffet's power in the first Phoenician cities.[citation needed] The aristocratic families were represented in a supreme council (Roman sources speak of a Carthaginian "Senate", and Greek ones of a "council of Elders" or a gerousia), which had a wide range of powers; however, it is not known whether the Suffets were elected by this council or by an assembly of the people. Suffets appear to have exercised judicial and executive power, but not military[citation needed]. Although the city's administration was firmly controlled by oligarchs[citation needed], democratic elements were to be found as well: Carthage had elected legislators, trade unions and town meetings. Aristotle reported in his Politics that unless the Suffets and the Council reached a unanimous decision, the Carthaginian popular assembly had the decisive vote - unlike the situation in Greek states with similar constitutions such as Sparta and Crete. Polybius, in his History book 6, also stated that at the time of the Punic Wars, the Carthaginian public held more sway over the government than the people of Rome held over theirs (a development he regarded as evidence of decline). Finally, there was a body known as the Hundred and Four, which Aristotle compared to the Spartan ephors. These were judges who oversaw the actions of generals[citation needed], who could sometimes be sentenced to crucifixion.

Eratosthenes, head of the Library of Alexandria, noted that the Greeks had been wrong to describe all non-Greeks as barbarians, since the Carthaginians as well as the Romans had a constitution. Aristotle also knew and discussed the Carthaginian constitution in his Politics (Book II, Chapter 11).

During the period between the end of the First Punic War and the end of the Second Punic War, members of the Barcid family dominated in Carthaginian politics. They were given control of the Carthaginian military and all the Carthaginian territories outside of Africa.


Carthaginian religion was based on Phoenician religion, a form of polytheism. Many of the gods the Carthaginians worshiped were localized and are now known only under their local names.


Carthagian shekels from circa 310-290 BCE showing the wreathed head of Tanit

The supreme divine couple was that of Tanit and Ba'al Hammon. The goddess Astarte seems to have been popular in early times. At the height of its cosmopolitan era, Carthage seems to have hosted a large array of divinities from the neighbouring civilizations of Greece, Egypt and the Etruscan city-states. A pantheon was presided over by the father of the gods, but a goddess was the principal figure in the Phoenician pantheon.

Caste of priests and acolytes

Surviving Punic texts are detailed enough to give a portrait of a very well organized caste of temple priests and acolytes performing different types of functions, for a variety of prices. Priests were clean shaven, unlike most of the population. In the first centuries of the city ritual celebrations included rhythmic dancing, derived from Phoenician traditions.

Punic stelae

Stelae on the Tophet

Cippi and stelae of limestone are characteristic monuments of Punic art and religion, and are found throughout the western Phoenician world in unbroken continuity, both historically and geographically. Most of them were set up over urns containing cremated human remains, placed within open-air sanctuaries. Such sanctuaries constitute striking relics of Punic civilization.

Child sacrifice

Carthage under the Phoenicians was criticized by its neighbors for child sacrifice. Plutarch (c. 46–120) mentions the practice, as do Tertullian, Orosius, Philo and Diodorus Siculus.[20] Herodotos and Polybius do not - it has been argued by skeptics that had they known of the practice they would have been horrified by it and have been sure to blow it up out of proportion due to their polemical treatment of the Carthaginians.[21] The Hebrew Bible also mentions child sacrifice practiced by the Canaanites, ancestors of the Carthaginians. The Greek and Roman critics, according to Charles Picard, objected not to the killing of children but to the religious nature of it. Exposure of children was common in ancient Greece and Rome but for economic rather than religious reasons.[22] There is some argument that the reports of child sacrifice were based on a misconception, later used as blood libel by the Romans who destroyed the city.[citation needed]

Modern archaeology in formerly Punic areas has discovered a number of large cemeteries for children and infants. These cemeteries may have been used as graves for stillborn infants or children who died very early.[23] Modern archeological excavations have been interpreted as confirming Plutarch's reports of Carthaginian child sacrifice.[24] In a single child cemetery called the Tophet by archaeologists, an estimated 20,000 urns were deposited between 400 BCE and 200 BCE, with the practice continuing until the early years of the Christian period. The urns contained the charred bones of newborns and in some cases the bones of fetuses and 2-year-olds. These remains have been interpreted to mean that in the cases of stillborn babies, the parents would sacrifice their youngest child. There is a clear correlation between the frequency of cremation and the well-being of the city. In bad times (war, poor harvests) cremations became more frequent, but it is not possible to know why. The correlation could be because bad times inspired the Carthaginians to pray for divine intervention (via child sacrifice), or because bad times increased child mortality, leading to more child burials (via cremation).

Accounts of child sacrifice in Carthage report that beginning at the founding of Carthage in about 814 BCE, mothers and fathers buried their children who had been sacrificed to Ba`al Hammon and Tanit in Tophet.[citation needed] The practice was apparently distasteful even to Carthaginians, and they began to buy children for the purpose of sacrifice or even to raise servant children instead of offering up their own. However, Carthage priests demanded the flower of their youth in times of crisis or calamity like war, drought or famine. Special ceremonies during extreme crisis saw up to 200 children of the most affluent and powerful families slain and tossed into the burning pyre.[citation needed]

Skeptics suggest that the bodies of children found in Carthaginian and Phoenician cemeteries were merely the cremated remains of children that died naturally. Sergio Ribichini has argued that the Tophet was "a child necropolis designed to receive the remains of infants who had died prematurely of sickness or other natural causes, and who for this reason were "offered" to specific deities and buried in a place different from the one reserved for the ordinary dead".[25] The few Carthaginian texts which have survived make absolutely no mention of child sacrifice, though most of them pertain to matters entirely unrelated to religion, such as the practice of agriculture. However, most scholars believe that these arguments are not supported by the evidence.[citation needed]

Modern times

Carthage remains a popular tourist attraction and residential suburb.

In February 1985, Ugo Vetere, the mayor of Rome, and Chedly Klibi, the mayor of Carthage, signed a symbolic treaty "officially" ending the conflict between their cities, which had been supposedly extended by the lack of a peace treaty for more than 2100 years.[26]

See also



  • Polybius[27]
  • Hannibal's Campaigns. Tony Bath. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 1981.
  • La vie quotidienne à Carthage au temps d'Hannibal. Gilbert et Colette Charles-Picard. Paris: Hachette, 1958.
  • La légende de Carthage. Azedine Beschaouch. Paris: Gallimard, 1993.
  • Carthage: Uncovering the Mysteries and Splendors of Ancient Tunisia. David Soren, Aicha Ben Abed Ben Kader, Heidi Slim. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.
  • The Phoenicians and the West: Politics, colonies and trade. Maria Eugenia Aubet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • Itineraria Phoenicia.Edward Lipinski. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters en Department Oosterse Studies, 2004. "Aeneid" Virgil



  1. ^ Carthage: new excavations in Mediterranean capital
  2. ^ Jongeling, K. (2005). "The Neo-Punic Inscriptions and Coin Legends". University of Leiden. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  3. ^ Carthage by B. H. Warmington p11
  4. ^ Herodotus, V2. 165–7
  5. ^ Polybius, World History: 1.7–1.60
  6. ^ Warmington, B. H. Carthage, p.11.
  7. ^ "Al-Watan Daily" (in Arabic). Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  8. ^ Polybius, Book 6, 52. On the Perseus project

    The former (the Romans - editor's note) bestow their whole attention upon this department (upon military service on land - editor's note): whereas the Carthaginians wholly neglect their infantry, though they do take some slight interest in the cavalry. The reason of this is that they employ foreign mercenaries, the Romans native and citizen levies. It is in this point that the latter polity is preferable to the former. They have their hopes of freedom ever resting on the courage of mercenary troops: the Romans on the valour of their own citizens and the aid of their allies.

  9. ^ Adrian Goldsworthy - The Fall of Carthage
  10. ^ Polybius, History Book 6
  11. ^ Wine: The 8,000-Year-Old Story of the Wine Trade, Thomas Pellechia (2006)
  12. ^ Ancient History
  13. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2007) Volubilis, The Megalithic Portal, ed. by A. Burnham
  14. ^ R.T. Ridley, "To Be Taken with a Pinch of Salt: The Destruction of Carthage," Classical Philology 81:2 (1986).
  15. ^ George Ripley, Charles Anderson Dana, The American Cyclopædia: a popular dictionary of general knowledge 5:235, 1874 full text
  16. ^ Serge Lancel and Jean-Paul Morel, "Byrsa. Punic vestiges"; To save Carthage. Exploration and conservation of the city Punic, Roman and Byzantine, Unesco / INAA, 1992, pp. 43-59
  17. ^ Aristotle, Politics Book 3,IX
  18. ^ Pliny, Nat His 33,96
  19. ^ Pliny 33,51
  20. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Trans. C.H. Oldfather. Diodorus of Sicily 1, VI, VIII, IX. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954-1963 (The Loeb Classical Library).
  21. ^ Carhtage a History, S Lancel, trans A Nevill, pp252
  22. ^ Life in Carthage Gilbert and Colette Charels-Picard pp149-50
  23. ^ Carhtage a History, S Lancel, trans A Nevill, pp251
  24. ^ Kelly A. MacFarlane, University of Alberta, Hittites and Phoenician
  25. ^ Sergio Ribichini, "Beliefs and Religious Life" in Moscati, Sabatino (ed), The Phoenicians, 1988, p.141
  26. ^ written by John Lawton
  27. ^ LacusCurtius • Polybius' Histories

External links

Coordinates: 36°51′11″N 10°19′23″E / 36.85306°N 10.32306°E / 36.85306; 10.32306

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : North Africa : Tunisia : Carthage
For other places with the same name, see Carthage (disambiguation).
View over the ruins to the Mediterranean coast
View over the ruins to the Mediterranean coast

The ruins of Carthage are in Tunisia, 15 km north of Tunis.


A city of the Pheonician and Punic periods from the C6th BC it was the base of a powerful trading empire spanning the entire south Mediterranean and home to a population of the order of half a million people. Its most famous general was Hannibal who crossed the Alps to battle with the Romans. Hannibal suffered his first significant defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC, which ended the 2nd Punic War. After over 50 years of being watched closely by Rome, they were eventually attacked in the 3rd Punic War. The citizens defended the city against Imperial Rome in 146BC yet lost, and Punic Carthage was completely destroyed by the order of the Senate. The site was redeveloped by the Romans a century later and Carthage became the capital of the Roman province of Africa. A UNESCO World Heritage List site.

Get in

Take the TGM light rail line from Tunis to Carthage-Hannibal station.

Get around

Walk. The area is large and sightseeing is sweaty work on a hot day.


Very little remains of Carthage today, and Punic Carthage in particular was completely obliterated.

Antonin Baths
Antonin Baths
  • Antonin Baths. Ruins of the largest Roman baths outside Rome itself. Guides are available in a number of languages. TD 5 + TD 1 for photo rights. Please note that it is illegal to take photographs in the direction of the presidential palace. Doing so, especially when traveling alone, may land you in jail for up to 3 years.
  • Carthage Museum. Most remnants excavated from the ruins have been stored in this cavernous museum located on Byrsa Hill, documenting both the Punic and the Roman era. 8:30AM-5:30PM (until 7PM in the summer), entry TD 4.2.
  • Acropolium (St Louis Cathedral) on top of Byrsa hill. Completed in 1890.
  • World War II North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial, [1] Just north of Carthage, a five minute walk from the Amilcar Station. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM-5PM. The Cemetery is the final resting place for 2,841 American military Dead lost during the War in North Africa. A monument is inscribed with the names of 3,724 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. The memorial court contains large maps in mosaic and ceramic depicting operations across Africa. Free.


There´s a lot of leather products to buy in Tunisia, from handbags to puffs. It´s cheaper than in Europe or America, and there´s a lot to choose from.

You can also buy many handmade items that are characteristic of Arab countries.


The Hotel Villa Didon, next to the main Carthage ruins, offers a stylish lounge and terrace with delightful views. Very pleasant for an evening beer or glass of wine.

  • Sidi Bou Said - this charming town is just a few stops further on from Carthage and is a great place to eat and watch the sunset
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



  • (UK) IPA: /ˈkɑːθɪdʒ/, SAMPA: /"kA:TIdZ/
  • (US) enPR: kärʹthĭj, IPA: /ˈkɑɹθɪdʒ/, SAMPA: /"kArTIdZ/

Proper noun




  1. An ancient city in North Africa, in modern Tunisia.


Related terms


Proper noun

Carthage f.

  1. Carthage


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Ancient city and republic in northern Africa; of special interest to Jews on account of the Phenico-Semitic origin of its inhabitants, its government under the suffetes, recalling the "shofeṭim" (judges) among the Hebrews, and on account of the religion of the inhabitants. The city, called (missing hebrew text) ("New City") in native inscriptions (Lidzbarski, "Nordsemitische Epigraphik," i. 365), is mentioned in Jewish writings since Talmudic times only as (missing hebrew text) ("Ḳarthigini"), a name equivalent to the Byzantine form Kαρϑαγένη and in agreement with the Syriac (Payne Smith, "Thes. Syr." cols. 3744, 3765), the Greek form Kαρχηδών being found with the latter. Notwithstanding the peculiar form, perhaps chosen with reference to the founder Dido ( (missing hebrew text) + γυνή, "Woman-City"), the Hebrew word certainly designates Carthage in Africa, not Cartagena in Spain. Later Jewish chronicles, which make the founding of Carthage contemporaneous with David, use the variants "Ḳarṭagena" (Yuḥasin, ed. London, 236b), "Ḳarṭigini" (with ט instead of ח, as sometimes even in the Talmud; David Gans to the year 3882), "Ḳartini," and "Ḳartigni" ("Seder ha-Dorot," s.v. "David"), sometimes adding the curious remark that the Talmud refers to two cities of Carthage, which is, however, an erroneous conclusion.



Josephus Flavius writes Kαρχηδών like the Greeks. He says it is recorded in the public documents of Tyre that King Solomon built the Temple at Jerusalem 143 years and eight months before the Tyrians founded Carthage ("Contra Ap." i. § 17). Josephus intends to prove by this statement the antiquity of the Jewish people, drawing the same conclusions from Menander's account of the reign of Hiram, according to which Hiram came to the throne 155 years and eight months before the founding of Carthage, and the Temple was built in the twelfth year of his reign (ib. i. § 18). Through this computation Josephus refutes the grammarian Apion, who placed the exodus from Egypt at the time that the Phenicians founded Carthage (ib. ii. § 2). The Maccabean Judah formed a treaty with the Romans for the reason, among others, that he had heard that the Romans had vanquished the Carthaginians ("Ant." xii. 10, § 6; compare "B. J." ii. 16, § 4; vi. 6, § 2). Josephus does not say that any Jews lived at Carthage.

In the Bible and the Talmud.

Although Carthage is not mentioned in the Bible, modern scholars are inclined to identify the Biblical Tarshish with Carthage, since it is thus translated in the Septuagint, the Targum, and the Vulgate, Ezek 27:12. A unique statement in the Talmud, based probably on the legend of the emigration of the Girgashites, identifies Kenizzi (Gen 15:19) with Carthage (Yer. Sheb. 36b; Yer. Ḳid. 61d; Gen. R. xliv. 23). But a wide-spread rabbinical legend identifies the land of the Amazons with Carthage (Lev. R. xxvii. 1), or with Africa (Tamid 32b), in both instances agreeing with classical tradition. Carthage was considered one of the four largest cities of the Roman empire (Sifre, Num. 131; p. 47b, ed. Friedmann). An amora of the third century has the following curious sentence: "From Tyrus to Carthage Israel and his 'Father in heaven' are known; from Tyrus to the west and from Carthage to the east Israel and his God are not known" (Men. 110a); which is probably meant to indicate the extent of the Semitic race.

Jews in Carthage.

The fact that the Talmud mentions the Carthaginian teachers of the Law, R. Abba, R. Isaac, and R. Ḥana, proves that Jews were living in that city, although Frankel, without reason, takes it to mean an Armenian city ("Mebo," pp. 6b, 66a), and Kohut a Spanish city ("Aruch Completum," vii. 220). It is evident from the introduction to the work "Adversum Judæos," ascribed to Tertullian, that Jews were living in Carthage; and they are found still further west (Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 26, note 64). Münter ("Primordia Eccl. Afric." p. 165, Copenhagen, 1829) mentions a certain R. Jisschak (the one in the Talmud?). The Jews of Africa (see Africa) are often referred to in the correspondence between Jerome and Augustine; and in recent times there has been found in Gamart, near the city of Carthage, a great Jewish necropolis with many inscriptions in Latin (see Catacombs). From the conquest of Carthage by the Vandals (439) to the subjection of the latter by the Byzantines (533), the holy vessels from the Temple of Jerusalem, that had been taken from Rome, were kept in Carthage (Evagrius, "Scholasticus," Fragment iv. p., 17; Procopius, "Bellum. Vand." ii. § 9). The Jews then passed under the rule of Justinian, who instructed Solomon, the governor of Africa, to transform the synagogues as well as the churches of the Arians and the Donatists into orthodox churches (Novellæ, No. 37). Solomon, however, was soon compelled to flee from the rebellious Africans.

Under the Arabs.

In 692 the city was wrested from the Christians by Ḥasan, a general of the calif 'Abd al-Malik, and in 698 the Greeks were permanently driven from Carthage and Africa by Musa (Weil, "Gesch. der Chalifen," i. 478). Previous to this the Arabs had founded the city Ḳairwan, which became as important to the Jews as Carthage had been. Following Arabic writers, Parḥi defined the situation of Carthage as 36° latitude by 35° longitude ("Kaftor wa-Feraḥ," ed. Edelmann, 26b).

Bibliography: Movers, Phönicier, ii. part i. 142, 144, 350; Böttger, Lexikon zu den Schriften des Flavius Josephus, p. 79; Neubauer, G. T. p. 411; Krauss, Lehnwörter, ii. 572; Delattre, Gamart ou la Nécropole Juive de Carthage, Lyons, 1895; Rev. Et. Juives, xliv. 2-28.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
This article needs to be merged with Carthage (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Simple English

A map of the middle of the Mediterranean Sea

Carthage is an ancient city-state in what is now Tunisia. In the Aeneid, an old story by Vergil, Aeneas visited Carthage. He made the Queen of Carthage, Dido, angry. Carthage and Rome warred three times. These wars were the Punic Wars. In the Second Punic War, Hannibal led the Cathaginian army. Rome destroyed Carthage in 146 BC.


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