Posted by: travelrat | November 3, 2008

Carthage

Tunis, 17th June 2008 (Continued)

From the Bardo Museum, they took us to Carthage, but there’s not a lot there to indicate that it was once the hub of a thriving empire, which even predated the Roman Empire. That was a great pity, for, in History and Latin lessons at school, the Carthaginians were always portrayed as the Bad Guys … or, indeed, one of the most evil bunch of blots ever to walk the earth.

And, if possible, I wanted to get the Carthaginian take on the affairs of the time.

The Carthaginians fought three wars, the Punic Wars, against the Romans, and with each one, they lost a substantial part of their empire. Finally, in the Third Punic War, the Romans took Carthage itself, and completely destroyed it, even sowing the surrounding fields with salt, so nothing would grow there for a considerable time.

That’s probably one of the earliest examples of the saying that history is propaganda spread by the winning side!

All that is left of the Carthaginian civilisation is a few meagre, insignificant grave-sites, from which some gold jewellery, now in the Bardo Museum, was recovered.

Eventually, the Romans built their own city there, reasoning that it was a good site for the capital of their new province. And, indeed it was. Looking out over an excellent view of the bay, Carthage is now one of the better suburbs of Tunis … the Presidential Palace is nearby.

But, little remains of the Roman city, too, except for the remains of the Antonine Baths. After the Romans left, the city was sacked, first by the Vandals, then by the Arabs, who took most of the stone to build their mosques and castles, and set up their capital in Kairouan.

There are, however, a few Roman sites remaining, and we visited the Antonine Baths. However, we didn’t stay long … it didn’t give much of an impression of ancient Carthage. I mean, would you get much of an impression of a house if you only saw the bathroom?

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Responses

  1. What a fantastic shot. Wow. I would have loved to have seen that. I hadn’t realised the Romans had sowed the fields with salt. So evil. They really would stop at nothing!

  2. I often wonder what our history books would have looked like if the Cathaginians had won the Punic Wars.


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