Ancient History & Civilisation


All dates are BC

969–936 Reign of Hiram I of Tyre.

911 Beginning of resurgence of Assyria.

884–859 Reign of Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria.

830–810 Foundation of Tyrian colony at Kition in Cyprus.

814 Reputed foundation date of Carthage.

800–750 Foundation and early development of Carthage Foundation of Pithecusa.

800–700 Foundation of Phoenician trading stations and colonies in Spain, the Balearics, Malta, Sardinia, Sicily and North Africa.

753 Reputed foundation date of Rome.

745–727 Reign of Tiglathpileser III of Assyria.

704–681 Reign of Sennacherib of Assyria.

586–573 Siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

550 (circa) The Magonids come to dominate Carthage politically.

535 Victory of the Carthaginian and Etruscan fleets over the Phocaeans at Alalia.

509 First treaty between Carthage and Rome.

500 (circa) The Pyrgi Tablets.

500–400 Possible period for Hanno’s voyage to West Africa and Himilco’s expedition into the northern Atlantic.

480 Defeat of the forces of the Magonid general Hamilcar by Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse, at the Battle of Himera.

479–410 Political reforms in Carthage, including creation of the Tribunal of One Hundred and Four, the Popular Assembly and the suffeture.

409The destruction of Selinus and the recapture of Himera by Carthaginian forces.

405 Carthaginian protectorate in western Sicily acknowledged in a treaty with Dionysius of Syracuse.

397 The destruction of Motya by Dionysius of Syracuse and the subsequent foundation of Lilybaeum (Marsala) by the Carthaginians.

396Introduction of the cult of Demeter and Core in Carthage.

390s–380s The Magonids lose their political power base in Carthage.

373 Treaty between Carthage and Syracuse.

348 Second treaty between Carthage and Rome.

340 Syracusan forces under Timoleon defeat the Carthaginians at the Battle of the Crimisus.

338 New treaty between Carthage and Syracuse by which the dominion of Carthage in Sicily is confined to the lands west of the river Halycus (Platani).

332Siege and capture of Tyre by Alexander the Great.

323 Death of Alexander the Great.

310–307 Invasion of Punic North Africa by Agathocles of Syracuse.

308 Failed coup attempt by Carthaginian general Bomilcar.

306 Supposed third treaty between Carthage and Rome.

280–275 The wars between Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, and the Romans and Carthaginians.

279Treaty between Carthage and Rome against Pyrrhus.

264The outbreak of the First Punic War between Carthage and Rome.

260 Roman naval victory at Mylae.

256–255 Regulus’ expedition to North Africa.

249 Carthaginian naval victory at Drepana.

247 Hamilcar Barca appointed general in Sicily. His son Hannibal Barca is born.

241 Carthaginian naval defeat at the Battle of the Aegates. Carthage sues for peace, and the First Punic War comes to an end with Rome victorious. Carthage loses its Sicilian territories.

241–238 The Mercenaries’ Revolt.

237 Annexation of Sardinia and Corsica by Rome.

237–229 Hamilcar Barca establishes the Barcid protectorate in southern Spain.

231 Alleged first Roman embassy to Hamilcar Barca.

229 Death of Hamilcar Barca and the assumption of his generalship by his son-in-law, Hasdrubal.

228–227 Hasdrubal Barca’s alleged unsuccessful return to Carthage. 227 Foundation of New Carthage by Hasdrubal.

226 Treaty between Hasdrubal and the Romans.

221 Murder of Hasdrubal. Hannibal Barca is acclaimed as the general of the Carthaginian forces in Spain.

220 Meeting between Hannibal and Roman envoys at New Carthage.

219 Hannibal starts to besiege Saguntum.

218 Roman embassy to Spain and then Carthage. Rome declares war on Carthage, and the Second Punic War begins. Hannibal sets off overland for Italy with his army (June). Battles of the Ticinus and the Trebia (November and December).

217 Battle of Lake Trasimene (June). Quintus Fabius Maximus becomes Roman dictator.

216 Battle of Cannae (August). Defection of Capua to Hannibal.

215 Hannibal’s treaty with Philip V of Macedon. Hieronymus becomes king of Syracuse.

214 Hieronymus is murdered. Hippocrates and Epicydes are elected magistrates and ally Syracuse with Carthage.

213 Syracuse besieged by Roman army under the command of Marcellus.

212 Defection of Tarentum, Locri, Thurii and Metapontum to Hannibal. The Romans besiege Capua. Marcellus captures Syracuse.

211 Hannibal marches on Rome. Surrender of Capua to the Romans. Deaths of the Scipios in Spain.

209 Capture of Tarentum by Fabius. Capture of New Carthage by Scipio Africanus.

208 Death of Marcellus. Defeat of Hasdrubal Barca (Hannibal’s brother) by Scipio Africanus at Baecula. Hasdrubal leaves with an army for Italy.

207 Hasdrubal defeated and killed at the Battle of the Metaurus.

206 Hannibal trapped in Bruttium. Scipio defeats the Carthaginian army at Ilipa. Gades surrenders to the Romans. Numidian king Syphax allies himself to Carthage.

205 Philip V of Macedon makes peace with Rome.

204 Scipio Africanus invades North Africa. The destruction of the Carthaginian and Numidian camps near Utica.

203 Defeat of the Carthaginians and Numidians at the Battle of the Great Plains. Syphax killed and Masinissa becomes king of all Numidia. Hannibal recalled from Italy.

202 Battle of Zama (October).

201 End of the Second Punic War.

196 Hannibal elected suffete.

195 Hannibal leaves for exile in the eastern Mediterranean.

184 Rome rejects the Carthaginians’ appeal against Numidian incursions into their territory.

183 Hannibal commits suicide in Bithynia.

182 Further Carthaginian appeal over Numidian aggression rejected.

174 The Romans reject another Carthaginian appeal against territorial encroachments by Masinissa.

168 The Macedonians comprehensively defeated by the Romans at the Battle of Pydna.

162 Masinissa seizes the emporia of Syrtis Minor. Carthage’s subsequent appeal to Rome is rejected.

153 Roman embassy sent to Carthage.

151 Carthage pays off the final instalment of its indemnity from the Second Punic War.

151–150 Popular party gains power in Carthage.

150 Rome decides on war against Carthage. Third Punic War starts.

149 Oligarchic party led by Hanno returns to power in Carthage. Start of siege of Carthage.

146 Destruction of Carthage by Scipio Aemilianus. Destruction of Corinth by a Roman army under Lucius Mummius.

122 Attempted Roman colony on site of Carthage led by Gaius Gracchus fails.

29 Augustus begins the construction of the new Roman city of Carthage.

29–19 Vergil writes the Aeneid.


This book would not have been written without the support and forbearance of a large number of people.

Particular thanks are due to my editors Simon Winder and Wendy Wolf at Penguin and Viking and Peter Robinson for their patience and advice over the years. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Philip Booth, Peter Garnsey, Irad Malkin, Robin Osborne and Peter Van Dommelen, who read and commented on the whole or various sections of this book. I also benefited greatly from discussions with Roald Docter, the late Friedrich Rakob and Dick Whittaker, Henry Hurst, Dexter Hoyos, Tim Whitmarsh, Claudia Kunze, Mike Clover, Jim McKeown, Martin Davidson, and Joseph Maxwell on different aspects of Carthage and the ancient Mediterranean world. Various chapters of this book were greatly improved by the valuable contributions made by participants at seminars at the Universities of London, Illinois–Champaign–Urbana, Wisconsin–Madison, Cambridge and Sydney.

Much of this book was written during sabbatical leave at the Institute of Research into the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2007–8. I am very grateful to the director of the Institute, Susan Friedman, and its fellows and staff for providing such an intellectually congenial working environment. I would also like to acknowledge the support afforded to me over the years by my colleagues in the Faculty of Classics and Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge.

Lastly, my love and thanks to Camilla, Maisie, Jessamy and Gabriel, who have all lived with Carthage for far too long.

May 2009

List of Illustrations

1. Aeneas’ Farewell from Dido in Carthage, 1675–6, oil on canvas, by Claude Lorrain, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany. Photograph copyright © Elke Walford, 2005. Photo Scala, Florence/ BPK, Bildagentur fuer Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin

2. Panoramic view of Carthage, painting, Musée National de Carthage, Tunisia. Prisma/Ancient Art & Architecture Collection Ltd

3. Finger ring with setting adorned with a woman’s head, third century BC, gold, from the Necropolis of sainte-Monique, Carthage. Musée National de Carthage, Tunisia. Photograph: Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisie (INP)

4. Finger ring with setting adorned with the profile of a man’s head, third century BC, gold, from the Necropolis of sainte-Monique, Carthage. Musée National de Carthage, Tunisia. Photograph: Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisie (INP)

5. Amulets depicting faces, fourth to third century BC, glass, Musée National de Carthage, Tunisia. Photograph copyright © Charles & Josette Lenars/CORBIS

6. Relief depicting the unloading of wood after transportation by sea, eighth century BC, stone, Assyrian, from the Palace of Sargon II, Khorsabad, Iraq. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France/Lauros/Giraudon/ The Bridgeman Art Library

7. Votive Punic stele depicting Priest holding a child, fourth century BC, dark limestone, from the tophet of Carthage. Musée National du Bardo, Tunisia. Photograph copyright © Roger Wood/CORBIS

8. Punic stelae on the cemetery of the tophet, third to second century BC, Carthage, Tunisia. Photograph copyright © Dave Bartruff/ CORBIS

9. Votive stele depicting Tanit, goddess of Carthage, holding a caduceus with a dolphin and an inscription, second to first century BC, limestone, Phoenician, from Tophet El-Horfa, Algeria. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France/The Bridgeman Art Library

10. Sarcophagus of ‘Winged Priestess’, fourth or third century BC, marble, from the Necropolis of sainte-Monique, Carthage. Musée National de Carthage, Tunisia. Photograph: Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisie (INP)

11. Youth of Motya, c. 470–450 BC, marble, Greek. Museo Giuseppe Whitaker, Mozia. Regione Siciliana, Soprintendenza per i Beni Culturali ed Ambientali, Servizio per i Beni Archeologici, Trapani. Copyright © 2008. Photo Scala, Florence, Italy.

12. Gold sheet with Phoenician text, fifth century BC, from Pyrgi. Museo di Villa Giulia, Rome, Italy. Copyright © 1990. Photo Scala, Florence–courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Culturali.

13. Gold sheet with Etruscan text, fifth century BC, from Pyrgi. Museo di Villa Giulia, Rome, Italy. Copyright © 1990. Photo Scala, Florence –courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Culturali.

14. Remains of a Phoenician ship, third century BC, Marsala, Italy. Copyright © 1990. Photo Scala, Florence.

15. Stele of Amrit: Melqart on his lion, c. 550 BC, limestone, from Amrit, Syria. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France. Copyright © RMN/ Franck Raux

16. Hercules, second century BC, bronze sculpture, Italian school, Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome, Italy. Photograph copyright © Araldo de Luca/CORBIS

17. Silver didrachm showing head of Hercules with she-wolf and twins design, Roman, issued c. 275–260 BC. Photograph copyright © The Trustees of the British Museum

18. Punic Mausoleum, early second century BC, Sabrata, Tripolitania, Libya. Photograph: akg-images, London/Gérard Degeorge

19. Hannibal, first century BC, stone bust. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, Italy. Photograph: Mary Evans Picture Library

20. Silver double shekel of Carthage showing head of Hercules-Melqart, issued by the Barcid family in Spain, c. 230 BC. Photograph © The Trustees of the British Museum

21. Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps, exhibited 1812, oil on canvas, Joseph Mallord William Turner. Tate Gallery, London. Photograph copyright © Tate, London 2009

22. The Battle of Zama, 202 BC, 1521, oil on canvas, attributed to Giulio Romano. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia. Photograph: akg-images, London

23. Scipio, Publius Cornelius, known as Scipio Africanus the Elder (235–183 BC), marble bust, Roman. Musei Capitolini, Rome, Italy. Photograph: akg-images, London/Erich Lessing

24. Cato the Elder (234–149 BC) in a toga, stone sculpture, Roman. Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City, Italy/Alinari/The Bridgeman Art Libary

25. View of the ruins, Carthage, Tunisia. Photograph: Ken Welsh/The Bridgeman Art Library

26. Apotheosis of Alexandria with Personification of the Four Parts of the World (Or: Dido Abandoned by Aeneas), first century AD, mural painting, Roman, from Casa Meleagro, Pompeii, Italy. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples. Photograph: akg-images, London/Erich Lessing

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