The city of Carthage dates back to 814 BC when a number of Phoenicians settled there from the city of Tyre in Lebanon. They began to form colonies along the coast of Africa and by 350 BC Carthage was the leading force in the area, although this was to be challenged by the emerging power of Rome and led to war breaking out between the two powers over Sicily in 264 BC, this became known as the first Punic War. Two other wars were to follow one of which was to produce one of the greatest generals in history the Carthaginian Hannibal who took his army with 37 elephants across the Alps to inflict a number of defeats on the Roman army. Hannibalís victorious spree was only curtailed when the Romans took the war to Carthage resulting in him being recalled to protect Carthage, something that he wasn't able to do as he was defeated by the Roman Scipio in 202 to end the Second Punic War.  Between 202-150 Carthage prospered through itsí trade with North Africa and Greece, making Rome very uneasy.


In 150 BC Rome found an excuse to mount an attack on Carthage and sent 80,000 men. This resulted in a three year siege and in 146 BC Carthage fell to Scipio the Younger, the grandson of Scipio who defeated Hannibal 50 years before. The City was burnt to the ground and remained in ruins until Julius Caesar rebuild it and made it the capital of the Roman province of Africa.


Carthage is not a single site but consists of a number of sites: the harbour, the main source of Punic power was its navy which had a fortified and secure harbour. Bursa Hill which is the location of the ex-cathedral, the Roman forum and the residential quarter from Punic times, and the museum with numerous exhibits including Punic statues, steles and urns. To be seen at other sites are villas, the theatre, the remains of the Amphitheatre, large pipes for the conveyance of water and the Antonine Baths. These were the largest baths in North Africa and third largest in the Roman world covering an area of 35 000 square metres. As well as the normal cold, warm and hot rooms it incorporated outdoor pools, a sun terrace and a series of steps leading down to the sea  Construction began on them under the Emperor Hadrian in AD 146 AD though were not completed until 162 AD in the reign of Antoninus Pius, hence the name of Antonine Baths. Carthage became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.



To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.


Addition information can be seen on Encyclopaedia Britannica



Copyright - All  Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain

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