The pitiful remains of Punic Carthage can be seen at the Phoenician necropolis, which is littered with memorial stellae.

Carthage destroyed

Industrious Carthaginians helped restore the wealth of their home city, with some measure of success. At first Hannibal remained there, turning his considerable talents to administration. His fiscal reforms helped Carthage clear its indemnity to Rome in just a few years, but Roman distrust prevailed. When the Senate demanded that Carthage hand him over in chains in 195 BC, he fled to Syria. The choice of destination inflamed passions in Rome, where it was feared that he was plotting with the Seleucid King Antiochus III to attack Rome again.

Hannibal found himself a Roman quarry once more when the Republic defeated his Syrian hosts. This time he went to Crete, before retreating to the Turkish coast. During a naval clash with Pergamum, he was thought to be behind the Bithynian trick of catapulting clay jars packed with poisonous snakes onto ships. Afterwards the Romans were on his trail again. This time Hannibal evaded them once and for all by committing suicide.

The Italian communities that had sided with Hannibal had their land seized by the state and placed in the ager publicus (state-owned farm land) and the rights of citizenship suspended. As for the Gauls in the north, a concerted campaign resulted in the subjugation of the Padus (Po) valley and establishment of the province of Cisalpine Gaul, which extended in a wide curve up to theAlpine foothills.

For another 50 years, Carthage remained chained by its treaty, but to many vocal patricians in Rome – most notably Cato the Censor – it was an unsatisfactory situation. For those who agreed with him that Carthage ‘should cease to exist’ it was convenient that the now elderly but still vigorous Numidian Massinissa provided them with an excuse to start a third war. Appreciating that Carthage was hidebound by its punitive peace treaty, Massinissa made repeated inroads into Carthaginian territory in North Africa. When Rome repeatedly ignored calls from Carthage to curb his ambitions, the city declared war on him in 150 BC. It was the casus belli Cato’s supporters needed. Carthage had broken the treaty.

The Carthaginian elders entreated for peace and Rome responded by raising the tribute demands and ordering its people to move from the city to settle where they liked, provided it was at least ten miles from the sea. This, the Carthaginian elders refused to do and the Third Punic War (149–46 BC) began.

However, due to a surprisingly strong defence Rome was deprived of the swift victory its consuls, L. Marcius Censorinus and M. Manlius, had doubtless anticipated when their forces landed in Africa. For three years Roman forces chipped away, gaining little ground. And then another Scipio arrived. Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus was the son of a distinguished military commander and the adopted grandson of Scipio Africanus. He galvanised the troops into a last, bloody push. Thousands of Carthaginians perished in street-to-street fighting. The rest were sold into slavery and the city was levelled. By
edict, no one was permitted to set foot on the ruins. The
site was redeveloped after 122 and the remains visible
today belong to that Roman settlement.

The region around Carthage now became part of the
Roman province of Africa. Any survivors were forced to
relocate in Numidia. Carthage was not the only city to be
razed in 146 BC. Further to the east, one of the gems of
Greek culture, the city of Corinth, was reduced to rubble
at the conclusion of a long series of conflicts in the region
that had taken place in the gap between the Second and
Third Punic Wars.


Roman building footings stand at a higher level above the Punic necropolis.


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