39 Facts About Carthage


Carthage was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is Tunisia.

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Carthage was one of the most important trading hubs of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the classical world.

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The question of Carthaginian decline and demise, especially whether Carthage did or should fall at the hands of the Romans, has remained a subject of literary, political, artistic, and philosophical debates in both ancient and modern histories.

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Late antique and medieval Carthage continued to play an important cultural and economic role in the Byzantine period.

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Carthage was built on a promontory with sea inlets to the north and the south.

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Carthage was one of the largest cities of the Hellenistic period and was among the largest cities in preindustrial history.

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Punic Carthage was divided into four equally sized residential areas with the same layout, had religious areas, market places, council house, towers, a theater, and a huge necropolis; roughly in the middle of the city stood a high citadel called the Byrsa.

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Urban landscape of Carthage is known in part from ancient authors, augmented by modern digs and surveys conducted by archeologists.

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The merchant harbor at Carthage was developed after settlement of the nearby Punic town of Utica, and eventually the surrounding African countryside was brought into the orbit of the Punic urban centers, first commercially, then politically.

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Yet within the Punic domain that surrounded the city-state of Carthage, there were ethnic divisions in addition to the usual quasi feudal distinctions between lord and peasant, or master and serf.

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Unlike Greek, Phoenician, and Tyrian colonizers who "only required colonies to pay due respect for their home-cities", Carthage is said to have "sent its own magistrates to govern overseas settlements".

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Since at least 1863, it has been claimed that Carthage was sown with salt after being razed, but there is no evidence for this.

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When Carthage fell, its nearby rival Utica, a Roman ally, was made capital of the region and replaced Carthage as the leading center of Punic trade and leadership.

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The Christians at Carthage conducted persecutions against the pagans, during which the pagan temples, notably the famous Temple of Juno Caelesti, were destroyed.

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Carthage remained a residential see until the high medieval period, and is mentioned intwo letters of Pope Leo IX dated 1053, written in reply to consultations regarding a conflict between the bishops of Carthage and Gummi.

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Later, an archbishop of Carthage named Cyriacus was imprisoned by the Arab rulers because of an accusation by some Christians.

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Fortress of Carthage was used by the Muslims until Hafsid era and was captured by the Crusaders during the Eighth Crusade.

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The inhabitants of Carthage were slaughtered by the Crusaders after they took it, and it was used as a base of operations against the Hafsids.

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Cartagenna and Dermeche correspond with the lower city, including the site of Punic Carthage; Byrsa is associated with the upper city, which in Punic times was a walled citadel above the harbour; and La Malga is linked with the more remote parts of the upper city in Roman times.

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French-led excavations at Carthage began in 1921, and from 1923 reported finds of a large quantity of urns containing a mixture of animal and children's bones.

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Carthage examined a sample of 49 Maghreban crania which included skulls from pre-Roman Carthage and concluded that, although they were heterogeneous, many of them showed physical similarities to crania from equatorial Africa, ancient Egypt, and Kush.

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Carthage noted the findings are consistent with an interpretation that it reflects both local and Levantine ancestry due to specific interactions in the ancient period.

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In 1961 it was given to the Tunisian government as part of the Independence of Tunisia, so the nearby College Maurice Cailloux in La Marsa, previously an annex of the Lycee Francais de Carthage, was renamed to the Lycee Francais de La Marsa and began serving the lycee level.

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Merchants of Carthage were in part heirs of the Mediterranean trade developed by Phoenicia, and so heirs of the rivalry with Greek merchants.

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That Carthage came to function as a manufacturing colossus was shown during the Third Punic War with Rome.

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Carthage, which had previously disarmed, then was made to face the fatal Roman siege.

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Furthermore, [Carthage although surrounded by the Romans] built one hundred and twenty decked ships in two months.

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Textiles industry in Carthage probably started in private homes, but the existence of professional weavers indicates that a sort of factory system later developed.

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Strabo the Greek geographer wrote that before its fall (in 146 BC) Carthage enjoyed a population of 700, 000, and directed an alliance of 300 cities.

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Evidently Carthage had an institution of elders who advised the Suffets, similar to a Greek gerusia or the Roman Senate.

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Greeks were favourably impressed by the constitution of Carthage; Aristotle had a separate study of it made which unfortunately is lost.

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Carthage was very stable; there were few openings for tyrants.

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Only after defeat by Rome devastated Punic imperial ambitions did the people of Carthage seem to question their governance and to show interest in political reform.

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Carthage proposed a one-year term for the 104, as part of a major civic overhaul.

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Carthage was founded by the king of Tyre who had a royal monopoly on this trading venture.

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Later, as other Phoenician ship companies entered the trading region, and so associated with the city-state, the King of Carthage had to keep order among a rich variety of powerful merchants in their negotiations among themselves and over risky commerce across the Mediterranean.

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Yet it was not until the aristocrats of Carthage became wealthy owners of agricultural lands in Africa that a council of elders was institutionalized at Carthage.

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Carthage wrote for the Mediterranean-wide audience then enjoying classical literature.

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Scant remains of what was once a great city are reflected upon in Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poem, Carthage, published in 1836 with quotes from Sir Grenville Temple's Journal.

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