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Carthage, the Forgotten Empire

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Cassandra
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« on: April 24, 2007, 11:26:41 pm »

Carthage



Carthage (Greek: Καρχηδών: Karchedon, from the Phoenician Kart-hadasht meaning new town, Arabic: قرطاج also قرطاجة, Latin: Carthago) refers both to an ancient city in North Africa located in modern day Tunis and to the civilization that developed within the city's sphere of influence. The city of Carthage was located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the center of modern Tunis in Tunisia.
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Cassandra
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2007, 11:27:43 pm »

Settlement

Originally a settlement of Phoenician colonists, Carthage grew into a vast economic and political power throughout the Mediterranean Sea, accumulating wealth and influence through its economic (trading) prowess. Carthage was a major power of the Mediterranean, contemporaneously with the Roman Republic of the 3rd and 2nd century BC, and was its rival for dominance of the western Mediterranean. Eventually this rivalry led to a series of three wars known as the Punic Wars, each of which Carthage lost. These losses led to a decline in Carthage's political and economic strength, mostly due to the harsh penalties imposed on Carthage by Rome as conditions for the cessation of hostilities. The Third Punic War ended with the complete destruction of the city of Carthage and the annexation of the last remnants of Carthaginian territory by Rome. Distinct Carthaginian civilization ceased to exist, but remnants contributed to later Mediterranean cultures.

The name Carthage is derived by way of Greek and Latin dialects from the Phoenician   qart ḥadašt meaning "new city." More than one Phoenician settlement originally bore this name, although only one city has the distinction of being the Carthage of the ancient world.

While the term Carthaginian is used by many modern writers, many ancient writings used the adjective Punic to describe anything to do with Carthaginian civilization, because of the Latin term Punicus (earlier Poenicus), itself borrowed from Greek Φοινίκη, "Phoenicia."
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Cassandra
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2007, 11:28:37 pm »

Question of Carthage

The historical study of Carthage is problematic. Due to the subjugation of the civilization by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War, very few Carthaginian historical primary sources survive. 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.[1] However, the majority of available primary source material about Carthaginian civilization was written by Greek and Roman historians, such as Livy, Polybius, Appian, Cornelius Nepos, Silius Italicus, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, and Herodotus.

These authors participated in cultures which were nearly always in competition, and often in conflict, with Carthage. The Greeks contested with Carthage for Sicily,[2] for instance, and the Romans fought the Punic Wars against Carthage.[3] Inevitably the accounts of Carthage written by outsiders include significant bias.

Recent excavation of ancient Carthaginian sites has brought much more primary material to light. Some of these finds contradict or confirm aspects of the traditional picture of Carthage, but much of the material is still ambiguous.
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Cassandra
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2007, 11:29:43 pm »

Foundation of Carthage

Carthage was founded in 814 BC by Phoenician settlers from the city of Tyre, bringing with them the city-god Melqart. According to tradition, the city was founded by Queen Dido (or Elissa or Elissar) who fled Tyre following the murder of her husband in an attempt by her younger brother of bolstering his own power. A number of foundation myths have survived through Greek and Roman literature, see Byrsa for one example.

In 509 BC a treaty was signed between Carthage and Rome indicating a division of influence and commercial activities. This is the first known source indicating that Carthage had gained control over Sicily and Sardinia.

By the beginning of the 5th century BC, Carthage had become the commercial center of the West Mediterranean region, a position it retained until overthrown by the Roman Republic. The city had conquered most of the old Phoenician colonies e.g. Hadrumetum, Utica and Kerkouane, subjugated the Libyan tribes, and taken control of the entire North African coast from modern Morocco to the borders of Egypt. Its influence had also extended into the Mediterranean, taking control over Sardinia, Malta, the Balearic Islands and the western half of Sicily. Important colonies had also been established on the Iberian peninsula.
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Cassandra
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2007, 11:31:06 pm »



Antonine baths ruins, from the Roman period
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Cassandra
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2007, 11:33:03 pm »

Legends of the Foundation of Carthage

Queen Elissar


Queen Elissar (also known as "Alissa", and by the Arabic name اليسار also اليسا and عليسا) was a princess of Tyre who founded Carthage. At its peak her metropolis came to be called the "shining city," ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean and leading the Phoenician Punic world.

Elissar was the Princess of Tyre. Her brother, King Pygmalion of Tyre, murdered her husband the high priest. Elissar escaped the tyranny of her own country and founded 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 Elissar 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) High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the king. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue, and desired the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acherbas. Pygmalion assassinated Acherbas in the temple and managed to keep 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.


Queen Dido

In the Aeneid, Queen Dido, the Greek name for Queen Elissar, 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 as even more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who have recently escaped from Troy; however, when Aeneas is reminded by the messenger god, Hermes, that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to travel to Italy to found Rome, Dido’s character takes a turn for the worse. When Aeneas deserts her, Dido becomes vengeful and orders a pyre to be built so that she may burn the possessions he left behind. It is on this pyre that Dido has a vision of the future Carthaginian general, Hannibal, avenging her. With her final breath she stabs herself.
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2007, 11:34:39 pm »



Map of the Phoenician and Punic world; as many as 300 settlements existed
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2007, 11:38:01 pm »

Phoenician colonization

Carthage was one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean. In the 10th century BC, the eastern Mediterranean shore was inhabited by various Semitic-speaking populations. The people inhabiting what is now Lebanon called their language Canaanite, but were referred to as Phoenicians by the Greeks. The Phoenician language was very close to ancient Hebrew, to such a degree that the latter is often used as an aid in translation of Phoenician inscriptions.

The Phoenician cities were highly dependent on trade, and included a number of major ports in the area. The Phoenicians' leading city was Tyre, which established a number of trading posts around the Mediterranean. Carthage and a number of other settlements later evolved into cities in their own right.


Extent of Phoenician settlement
 
In order to provide a resting place for merchant fleets, to maintain a Phoenician monopoly on an area's natural resource, or to conduct trade on its own, the Phoenicians established numerous colonial cities along the coasts of the Mediterranean. They were stimulated to found their cities by a need for revitalizing trade in order to pay the tribute extracted from Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos by the succession of empires that ruled them and by fear of complete Greek colonization of that part of the Mediterranean suitable for commerce. The Phoenicians lacked the population or necessity to establish self-sustaining cities abroad, and most cities had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, but Carthage and a few other cities developed into large cities.

Some 300 colonies were established in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Iberia, and to a much lesser extent, on the arid coast of Libya. The Phoenicians controlled Cyprus, Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands, as well as minor possessions in Crete and Sicily; the latter settlements were in perpetual conflict with the Greeks. The Phoenicians managed to control all of Sicily for a limited time. The entire area later came under the leadership and protection of Carthage, which in turn dispatched its own colonists to found new cities or to reinforce those that declined with Tyre and Sidon.

The first colonies were made on the two paths to Iberia's mineral wealth — along the African coast and on Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. The centre of the Phoenician world was Tyre, serving as an economic and political hub. The power of this city waned following numerous sieges and its eventual destruction by Alexander the Great, and the role as leader passed to Sidon, and eventually to Carthage. Each colony paid tribute to either Tyre or Sidon, but neither had actual control of the colonies. This changed with the rise of Carthage, since the Carthageans appointed their own magistrates to rule the towns and Carthage retained much direct control over the colonies. This policy resulted in a number of Iberian towns siding with the Romans during the Punic Wars.
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2007, 11:39:38 pm »



Map of Sicily with all the Phoenician and Greek settlements
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