The Phoenicians were traders noted for their purple dye made from the murex snail. The name 'Phoenicia' is Greek, probably meaning 'dealer in purple', and is used for the northern part of Canaan on the east coast of the Mediterranean. They appear to have had contacts as far afield as the British Isles, which were a source of tin, and may have circumnavigated Africa over 2000 years before the Portuguese. Tyre, Sidon and Byblos were essentially city states which founded their own colonies with hereditary kings around the Mediterranean. Although they had their own alphabet of 22 letters from around BC 1000, (later adopted by the Greeks) the Phoenicians left few inscriptions so relatively little is known about them. Their empire flourished from around 1200 BC until Alexander the Great captured Tyre in 332 BC.
This North African colony was founded by Tyre in the C9th and had one of the best ports in the Mediterranean. After the Babylonians captured Tyre in the C6th BC, it became the centre of the Phoenician trading empire. A long conflict with Greece centred on Sicily, which was held by Greek colonies in the east and Carthaginian trading stations in the west. The Carthaginians prevented a Greek attempt to land in Corsica c 540 BC, and in 480 BC, the Greeks defeated the Carthaginians at Himera when they attempted to conquer the whole of Sicily. Carthage was an aristocratic republic with two chief magistrates elected every year and Senate of 300 life members. The population is said to have been over 700 000. Its strength lay in its powerful navy and commercial base but the armies were mostly mercenaries.
There was a period of intense rivalry with the rapidly rising city of Rome. The First Punic War (264-41 BC) Hamilcar Barca harassed the Romans in Sicily and Italy and led an expedition to Spain where he was killed in battle. Carthage was defeated and Sicily was ceded to Rome. During the Second Punic War (218-201), his son, Hannibal Barca, invaded Italy after crossing the Alps with his elephants at the Montgenevre Pass. For the next sixteen years he remained in Italy, defeating Roman armies at Trebia, Trasimene and Cannae. He never dared to attack Rome due to the constant presence of an army led by Quintus Fabius Maximus who followed Hannibal but never attacked the Carthaginians or allowed them to trap and attack him. Hannibal was forced further and further south and his Italian allies drifted away. His brother, Hasdrubal, was defeated at the Metaurus River in Umbria and although undefeated, Hannibal was confined to Bruttium in the toe of Italy. In 203 BC he returned to Carthage. Scipio Africanus defeated him at Zama in 202 and he was forced into exile in 196, taking refuge with Antiochus the Great of Syria with whom he had intrigued against Rome. He may have moved to Armenia to help King Artaxias design his capital, Artaxata, after Antiochus was subdued by Rome, and eventually ended up in Bithynia. In 182 BC, Rome demanded that King Prusias hand him over but Hannibal committed suicide instead.
After the defeat by Scipio Aemilianus Major at Zama during the Third Punic War (149-6 BC), Carthage and the surrounding area became part of the Roman Africa Province. Roman colonists settled in Carthage around 45 BC and it became the wealthy capital of Africa Province. In AD 439, it was captured by the Vandals and degenerated into little more than a pirate stronghold. After 533, it was part of the Byzantine Empire but was finally destroyed by the Arabs in 698.
|Melkart/Melquart/Melgarth||'king of the city' (Tyre)|
|Baal (Lord) Hammon||(Carthage)|
|Rhecanus||'the rider' (Oretanian)|
|Astarte||stars, maiden warrior, daughter of Melkart|
|Masiasbal||monster killed by Melkart|
|Elibaal||c C8th||Son of Yehimilk||Baalat-Gebel|
|Shipitbaal||Son of Elibaal|
|Straton I||362 BC|
|Hannibal||c 400 BC||grandson of Hamilcar|
|Hamilcar Barca||246-29||son of Hasdrubal|
|Hannibal||229-||son of Hamilcar Barca|
|Hasdrubal||229-||son of Hamilcar Barca|
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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