Carthaginian Origins (02:07)
The people that Homer called Phoenicians settled in Lebanon in 3,000 B.C. and developed autonomous city states around the Mediterranean. They lived in the shadow of Egypt and Mesopotamia, and paid tribute to Assyria in the form of silver and copper.
Gaining Freedom (04:08)
King Zakar-Baal of Byblos paid tribute to the Pharaoh in jewelry and cedar. In 1100 B.C., an Egyptian priest Wenamun traveled to Byblos to procure timber; Zakar-Baal demanded payment. Wenamun was forced to comply—demonstrating Egypt's waning power.
Founding Carthage (03:36)
From the 8th century B.C., Tyre ruled in the east and Carthage ruled in the west. According to legend, Alyssa fled with her brother Pygmalion in Tyre and landed in North Africa. The city was established for strategic and trading reasons.
Carthage Layout and Government (03:24)
Learn about the city's strategic port and administrative center. Long distance traders held power; elected magistrates presided in senate. Carthaginians began empire building to secure raw materials, and acquire territory around the Mediterranean. Trade links extended from sub-Saharan Africa to Britain.
Imperial Expansion and Mythology (03:48)
Carthaginians and Phoenicians were renowned for handicrafts. They focused on trade, hired mercenaries, and established colonies in Spain and Italy. Each city had unique gods inspired by the Near East; religion was open and multicultural.
Child Sacrifice Controversy (03:26)
Contemporaries reported that Carthaginians offered their children to the gods. A tophet in the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia seems to confirm this theory, but archaeological evidence shows infants died of natural causes.
Carthaginian Industrial Shipbuilding (04:50)
Warships were secretly constructed in Carthage's circular harbor. Ruins discovered in Marsala, Sicily reveal that designers used prefabricated parts coded for assembly. Learn about design types.
Ancient Underwater Battlefield (02:38)
Texts report naval battles with rival Greeks and Romans. In 2013, archaeologists discovered a shipwreck outside Marsala, recovering Carthaginian weapons and rams from 241 B.C. The Romans won by copying a Carthaginian ship model.
Hanno and Himilco (07:22)
Carthaginians built ocean going ships for travel and trade. In the 5th century, B.C., Hanno sailed west with 60 ships, exploring the African coast; learn about the West African silent trade practice. His contemporary Himilco sailed north in search of British tin.
Phoenician Purple (04:08)
Carthaginians were famous for exporting purple cloth, produced with dye from Murex sea snails. Textile artist Inga Bursken demonstrates the extraction process.
Phoenician Writing System (03:22)
Phoenicians developed an alphabet for trade recording purposes. It was widely accessible and influenced written Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Cyrillic, and Latin. Learn about its legacy in terms of global knowledge.
Punic Wars (03:59)
After centuries of friendly relations, Carthaginians and Romans went to battle over Sicily. Learn about Hannibal's march to Italy and defeat at the Battle of Zama.
Fall of Carthage (02:41)
With Marcus Porcius Cato's urging, in 141 B.C., Romans conquered and destroyed the city. Phoenician settlements in Italy and Spain were incorporated into the Roman Empire. Carthaginians set the stage for global trade, founded Europe's oldest cities, and originated Western alphabets.
Credits: The Carthaginians (00:29)
Credits: The Carthaginians
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