Carthaginian Empire(814 BCE or 813 BCE-146 BCE) was an empire in northwest Africa, present day Tunisia, founded by Phoenicians of Tyre. Carthage would rise and become a major economic and military power in the Mediterranean. Carthage reached its political peak in the sixth century BCE, after which it slowly declined from wars with the expanding Roman Empire. In 146 BCE, Roman general, Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus destroyed Carthage in the final Punic War. Rome destroyed all written documentary archives of Carthage, living her history to be revived mainly from bias Greek and Roman sources.
Legends has it that Queen Dido (Roman) or Elissa(Greek) fled Tyre, a Phoenician city, after her husband (Acerbas) was executed on the order of King Pygmalion. She reportedly founded Carthage in 814 BCE or 813 BCE. Under the Magonids Carthage came into its own. It was not a Phoenician imitation.
The city of Carthage was built in the Gulf of Tunisia, with numerous small hills. The geography made it easy to defend. The Byrsa an ancient citadel was built on one of those hills with numerous tombs placed in the area.
In Carthage the
ruling class lived in Palaces. The common populace live in visually
appealing homes and apartments, which had running water from cistern. The homes of Carthaginians were furnish with Punic
beds, mattresses, and cushions. The furniture items produced by
Carthage was much sought out in the Mediterranean.The city had numerous public baths for commoners and special baths for the senate. Golden plates, silver plates, glass beads adorn dwellings.
Carthage had one of the largest harbors in the Mediterranean, with 220 docks. It was semi-circular in shape, aligned with columns and statues gotten from surrounding Greek colonies.
One of the major
source of wealth for Carthage was silver. Silver was mined in North
Africa and southern Spain. Carthage also issued coins in silver, gold, electrum(silver and gold) used throughout the Mediterranean.
Kings of Carthage and Political Organization
The political organization of Carthage is very sketchy. Multiple sources don't agree. Repeating organization and political posts seems to recur. Initially, a governor from Tyre ruled Carthage. Carthage was later ruled by kings restricted by a constitution and seemed to have been dynastic. Mago was the first king, who laid the foundation for the Magonid Dynasty, which lasted from 550 to 370. Between 360 to 339, she was ruled by aristocrats. She cease being ruled by kings in 308. She would later be ruled by suffetes or elected judges. Two judges were elected every year by the people. State business was handle between the suffetes and initially Council of Ancient (gerusial according to the Greeks). The Council of Ancient comprised of 28 members. This council would later be replaced by the Hundred comprised of 104 member. The latter would weaken the power of the suffetes. For legislation to become law, the suffetes and the Hundred had to agree. If not, the citizenry would decide on a vote.
Carthaginian military structure initially came out of the reforms of Mago. It remained the same till the wars with Rome. The military was comprised solely of foreign mercenaries speaking various languages--Libyans(Numidian), Celts, Gauls, Spaniards, Ligurians, Belearic Isles, Volscians. Soldiers were paid a salary. Commanders tended to be from the majority ethnic, they lead. Fighting style depended on the nation of the Mediterranean fighters came from. The Berber Numidians were heavily recruited especially for the cavalry. They went into battle without saddle and stirrup. They fought with elephant hide shield. Soldiers from the Belearic Isles fought with slings. Military size could get as high as 20,000 men. Generals could be crucified for losing battles on decisions by the Hundred.
Carthage's religion was greatly influence by Phoenician beliefs. Some Gods came directly from the Levant, others were unique.
Carthaginians spoke Punic, a form of Phoenician, belonging to the Afrasan-semitic branch. They wrote their language in two form, the Punic and Neo Punic. Punic was for monuments, official government documents, and mainly used in Carthage. Neo Punic was cursive and used all over the mediterranean.
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