What did Carthage think of the Phoenicians?

Who were the Carthaginians, what was Carthage - and what were the "Punic Wars"?

Phoenicians! The Carthaginians were Phoenicians who built their city, Carthage, probably around 814 BC. BC on the Mediterranean Sea in what is now Tunisia near Tunis as a Phoenician colony.

Since around the 7th century BC The inhabitants of the colony were called Punians (Latin: "poeni") by the Romans. Since then, Punic culture has been used instead of Phoenician.


The city quickly grew to considerable size and strength.

During the first two centuries or so after the founding of the mother country, Carthage finally broke away from the influence of its former "capital" Tire after the Persians conquered Phenicia (Lebanon, Syria, Israel) in the middle of the 6th century.


As a result, Carthage developed into one of the most prosperous and important cities of antiquity.

Archaeological finds show, for example, a street system that was designed at right angles to that of today's New York.

Carthage expanded, turned into a trading metropolis and the population - 200-400,000 people are said to have lived there at the best of times - grew steadily. But despite the extraordinary boom and constant upward development of Carthage, the Carthaginians never seem to have given a thought to the formation of an independent state.

Animosity and resentment

The seafaring and trading people of the Carthaginians thought little of war and the military, but they thought much more of good business. Economic success and prosperity led to the establishment of a large number of other trading colonies.

The sphere of influence of Carthage soon extended far beyond the Mediterranean.

But how it is with success.

Although on the one hand appreciated and admired for their liveliness and shrewdness, on the other hand the Carthaginians got into an apparently inevitable conflict with their (former) business partners, who, in view of the Carthaginian prosperity, began to see their benefices go down the drain.

"... Carthage must be destroyed!" (Cato, Roman general - * around 234 / ° 149 BC Chr.)

So it happened, with varying success, in the middle of the 6th century BC. BC to the clashes with the Greeks over Sicily and Corsica and finally to the three "Punic Wars" against the Romans:

  • 264 to 241 BC BC - First Punic War, in which it was primarily about the rule over Sicily;
  • 219 to 201 BC - Second Punic War, in which the Carthaginian Hannibal (* around 246 / ° 183 BC) with his troops - several thousand soldiers, horsemen and over thirty elephants - managed to cross the Alps and the Romans at Lake Trasimeno (Umbria / Italy) and at Cannae (Apulia / Italy), but ultimately in 202 BC. BC suffered a severe defeat in the battle of Zama (near Carthage);
  • 149 to 146 BC BC - Third Punic War, which ended with the complete destruction of Carthage.

What happened next

Gaius Julius Caesar (* about 100 / ° 44 BC) gave 46 BC The impetus to rebuild Carthage; Emperor Augustus (* around 63 BC /°14 AD) realized this idea around 29 BC. BC, and in the following two centuries Carthage again achieved a not inconsiderable boom.

The city became the center of early Christianity in North Africa, but suffered

  • in the 3rd century AD suffered an economic setback due to a rampant plague epidemic as well
  • in the 4th century by an earthquake,
  • "Recovered" and renewed itself temporarily, had itself
  • in the 5th century to deal with the invading Vandals in the course of the Great Migration and was after the conquest by the Arabs at the end of the
  • 7th century (698 AD) finally degraded to a quarry.

Today ...

... are the archaeological excavations of Carthage, about fifteen kilometers from Tunis and embedded in a villa suburb of the Tunisian capital, a tourist attraction.

The ruins of Carthage have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 ...

Author: Manfred Zorn