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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Carthage::Ancient City in Tunisia-Part_2

Carthaginian Republic

 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. The Carthaginians were Semitic Phoenician settlers originating in the Mediterranean coast of the Near East. They spoke Canaanite and followed a predominantly Canaanite religion.

Army
Carthaginian-held territory in the early 3rd century BC

According to Polybius, Carthage relied heavily, though not exclusively, on foreign mercenaries, especially in overseas warfare. The core of its army was from its own territory in north Africa (ethnic Libyans and Numidians (modern northern Algeria), as well as "Liby-Phoenicians"—i.e., Phoenicians 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 (modern Spain and Portugal), Iberians came to form an even greater part of the Carthaginian forces. Carthage seems to have fielded a formidable cavalry force, especially in its North 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, among other uses, were commonly used for frontal assaults or as anti-cavalry protection. An army could field up to several hundred 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.

 

Navy

 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 Phoenician citizenry, unlike the multi-ethnic 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. 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 Cassiterides., and also to North West Africa. There is evidence that at least one Punic expedition, that of Hanno, may have sailed along the West African coast to regions south of the Tropic of Cancer.Polybius wrote in the sixth book of his History that the Carthaginians were "more exercised in maritime affairs than any other people." 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 numerically superior Roman for a whole day.

Fall

Ruins of Carthage

The fall of Carthage came at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BC at the Battle of Carthage. Despite initial devastating Roman naval losses 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 harbour and burned them before the city, and went from house to house, capturing and enslaving the people. Fifty thousand Carthaginians were sold into slavery. The city was set ablaze, and razed to the ground, leaving only ruins and rubble. 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. The legend that the city was sown with salt is not mentioned by the ancient sources; R.T. Ridley suggested that the story originated from 1930 in section of the Cambridge Ancient History written by B Hallward whose influence might be an account of Abimelech's salting of Shechem in Judges 9:45. Warmington admitted his fault in repeating Hallward's error but mentions an example of the story that goes back to 1299 when Boniface VIII destroyed Palestrina.

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