History of Carthage
Carthage was founded by colonist from Tyre in the 8th century BC. Carthage
due to its geographic location and good harbor controlled the trade
with Western Europe and North Africa including the rich mines of Spain.
Carthage had colonies in Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia. The Punic wars
with Rome started in 264 BC. The first Punic War was fought mostly
at sea and in Sicily. The first Punic war lasted 24 years ending in
241 BC with Carthage's loss of Sicily and requirements to pay tribute
to Rome. The second Punic war began with Hannibal's
attack on Sangutum in 219 BC and Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in
218 BC and lasted for 17 years. The Romans won the war by slowly grinding
down the Carthaginian trading empire and depriving Hannibal of resources.
In the end, Hannibal surrendered and Carthage gave up its entire navy
and all colonies and trade concessions in order to achieve peace.
The peace lasted for 52 years, but all the time the Romans and Carthaginians
had a continued animosity towards each other. Finally, the Carthaginian
General Hasdrubal in 149 BC attacked Numidia, a Roman ally, hoping
to bring Rome to war and defeat. He was utterly defeated in Numidia
and the Carthaginians sent envoys to Rome begging their understanding
that Hasdrubal did not represent the Carthaginian people. The Romans
demanded unconditional surrender and for 300 hostages of the leading
families to be sent to Rome. The Romans sent a military force to Carthage
to enforce the surrender. First they demanded massive amounts of grain
to feed the army. Next they demanded the turning over of all military
arms. All the time the Carthaginians had no option, their army having
been wiped out in Numidia. Finally, after the city's grain supplies
and arms had been delivered to the occupying Roman army, the Roman
General (Scipio) told the Carthaginians the last demand of the Roman
Senate for the surrender, "they must abandon the city of Carthage".
The citizens would be free to take what they could carry and build
a new city inland, but the city of Carthage was to be destroyed. The
Carthaginians although they had no army, no arms, and no reserve food
supplies could not accept this condition. They closed the gates, ripped
up the streets for stones to throw at the attacking army and smelted
all the metal in the city to make arms. Their desperate struggle lasted
3 years until 145 BC, when Carthage was destroyed.