The Role of Spanish Carthage
Ancient Spanish Carthage Background
The Greeks and Phoenicians gradually colonized either-side of the Mediterranean.
History of Andalucia
, a peaceful and successful trading partnership with the Kingdom of Tartessos in Southern Iberia was reached between the Phoenicians and the Tartessians.
The Phoenicians created the first Phoenician habour-cty in 1100 BC in Gades, Cadiz Map. The location of Gades, permiited the Phoenicians' absolute control of shipping-traffic exiting the Mediterranean sea. From 770 – 550 BC onwards, the Phoenicians gradually created more settlements along the southern Iberian Peninsula's coasts: Cartiea, Malaca, Calpe and Sexi - see: Ancient Iberia Map
In 575 BC, Greeks from Phocaea colonized a small island in the Catalan region. It was called Empúries. The Greeks pacted political and commercial agreements with local indigenous tribes. In 910 BC the Greeks colonized Rhodes at Rosas, Artemisium (Denia). The Zacynthians established Saguntum (above Valentia) see Political Map of Spain
and occupied Iviza (Ibiza) calling it Ophioussa
Carthage (near Tunisia) originally, was founded by Tyre, as a Phoenician colony in the 9th century. Phoenicia lost its independance first to Syria and then to Persia; Cartharge evolved as an independant state.
Carthaginians like their Phoenician forefathers, excelled in lucrative trading. They had colonies in Sardinia, Corsica and in two thirds of Sicily, since the early 3rd century.
They were expert seafarers. The Carthaginians maintained good diplomatic relations with, Morroco, Portugal and Iberia. By the 7th century BC, Carthage also formed colonies in the Balearic Islands.
A Request for Aid
The Phoenicians, requested Carthaginiain assistence, in regaining their Iberian Peninsula territories. Native tribes began repelling Phoenician advances. They helped and then overran the Phoenicians themselves, absorbing their commercial interests in (Andalucia): Baetica, the Rio Tinto gold and silver mines see Physical Map of Spain
Mid 3rd Century BC
Spanish Carthage became powerful and wealthy having seized the gold and silver mines of Rio Tinto and the silver mines of Cartago Nova. Carthago Nova became the military and civilian capital of Spanish Carthage. Carthage was colonizing vast areas of North Africa.
Rome's primary interests, during this period was in uniting its territories. After consolidating southern Italy, the large island of Sicily suddenly seemed very tempting.
Southern Sicily already belonge to Carthage. Northern Sicily was situated extremely close to Southern Italy.
Revolts erupted in Sicilian Messana. The soldiers were not being paid.
What Sparked the 1st Punic War
Rome took a decisive role and set sieges on various cities of Sicily. Carthage tried defending them with their navy which Rome sunk. Carthage lost its dominion of the seas. This action provoked the 1st Punic war which lasted 264 – 241 BC.
241 BC A treaty between Rome and Carthage. There was no real winning-side to this war, however, the Roman Empire obliged Carthage to relinquish their control of Sicily and made the Carthaginians pay massive war damages to Rome, over a twenty-year period.
The Mercenary Wars
238 BC Cartharge faced rebellions in its mercenary ranks. Rome took further action during this period and seized Corsica and Sardinia.
This action incensed the Carthaginians. The Carthaginians began to greatly reinforce their troops; having lost control of the Mediterranean, the next nearest place they could do this was on the future Spanish Carthage.
Hamilcar Barca was sent to Iberia - having to cross the straights of Gibraltar and land in Andalucia Spain, primarily to help the Phoenicians against the native tribes and latterly to train and enlist the conquested native tribes of Iberia as Carthaginian troops.
Saguntum was a small, eastern, coastal city, 30 kms north of Valentia. Saguntum approached Rome seeking a friendly alliance. To Rome this was a cherry-to-pick: a friend midst the ever-increasing Spanish Carthage territories. A treaty was signed. Saguntum became part of the Roman confederacy. Spanish Carthage territories extended as far as the Ebro river, however, Saguntum fell under Roman rule.
221 BC Hannibal assumed control of the Carthaginian forces.
Over the next two years he trained his forces. The Saguntumes, observed with growing discernment these tactics and reports were sent to Rome...to no avail. The Romans, meanwhile, were dealing with revolts in the Illyrian islands
Two years later Hannibal was ready. He laid seige to Saguntum in 218 BC. The city was renowned to be a wealthy one, with its own mint. Architecture of Saguntum was predominantly Grecian - something the Romans greatly appreciated. The city was well fortified.
Two ambassadors were dispatched to Rome begging for assistence.
Eight months later the city remained unaided by Rome.
It fell into Carthagininan hands. Desperation forced the Saguntumes to assume the worst. Tremendous losses were sustainedon either-side. Finally, in 219 BC Saguntum was in Carthagininan hands.
Saguntum was a ghost town. Rivers of blood seeped everywhere. Every building had been smashed and destroyed purposely by the Saguntumes themselves.
Fearing the worst, the men intentionally sacrificed their families, knowing that enslavement was the least punishment that could befall them - for having pacted with the Romans. The Saguntimes voted, collectively, to fight to the bitter end, preferring that than to become part of Spanish Carthage.
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Phoenician Jewellery Museo de Arqueologia, Cadiz Spain.
Map of General Hannibal's March on Rome