Carthage refers both to an ancient city in North Africa located in modern day Tunis and to the civilization that developed within the city's sphere of influence. The city of Carthage was located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the center of modern Tunis in Tunisia.
Originally a settlement of Phoenician colonists, Carthage grew into a vast economic and political power throughout the Mediterranean Sea, accumulating wealth and influence through its economic (trading) prowess. Carthage was a major power of the Mediterranean, contemporaneously with the Roman Republic of the 3rd and 2nd century BC, and was its rival for dominance of the western Mediterranean. Eventually this rivalry led to a series of three wars known as the Punic Wars, each of which Carthage lost. These losses led to a decline in Carthage's political and economic strength, mostly due to the harsh penalties imposed on Carthage by Rome as conditions for the cessation of hostilities. The Third Punic War ended with the complete destruction of the city of Carthage and the annexation of the last remnants of Carthaginian territory by Rome. Distinct Carthaginian civilization ceased to exist, but remnants contributed to later Mediterranean cultures.
Carthage was built on a promontory with inlets to the sea to the north and south. The city's location made it master of the Mediterranean's maritime trade. All ships crossing the sea had to pass between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia, where Carthage was built, affording it great power and influence.
Two large, artificial harbors were built within the city, one for harboring the city's massive navy of 220 warships and the other for mercantile trade. A walled tower overlooked both harbors.
The city had massive walls, 23 miles in length, longer than the walls of comparable cities. Most of the walls were located on the shore, and thus could be less impressive as Carthaginian control of the sea made attack from that direction difficult. The 2½–3 miles of wall on the isthmus to the west were truly gargantuan and in fact were never penetrated.
The city had a massive necropolis, religious area, market places, council house, towers, and a theatre, and was divided into four equally-sized residential areas with the same layout. Roughly in the middle of the city stood a high citadel called the Byrsa. It was one of the largest cities in Hellenistic times (by some estimates only Alexandria was larger) and was among the largest cities in pre-industrial history.
Carthage remains a popular tourist attraction and residential suburb.
JOURNEYS trips that include Carthage:
Treasures of Tunisia
Cairo to Casablanca Overland Adventure from Oct. 13-Nov. 23, 2007 with Will Weber
Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carthage