Zeugitana, Carthage AU Electrum Shekel 310 - 290 BC

Obv: Head of Tanit left. Rev: Horse standing right. Metal: Gold (electrum) 7.6 Grams, 18 mm diameter. Condition: good VF.

<Hannibal making a river crossing> 
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.