By the Editors of the Madain Project

Carthage was a settlement in what is now known as modern Tunisia that later became a city-state and then an empire. It was established by the Phoenicians in the ninth century BCE and grew into one of the world's largest cities by the fourth century BCE, serving as the hub of the Carthaginian Empire, a dominant force in the western Mediterranean region. After the Punic Wars, the Romans razed Carthage in 146 BCE, but they later reconstructed the city in a grand manner.


Around 814 BCE, settlers from Tyre, a major Phoenician city-state in modern-day Lebanon, established Carthage. After Phoenicia was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the seventh century BCE, Carthage gained independence and gradually extended its economic and political influence throughout the western Mediterranean. By 300 BCE, Carthage had the largest territory in the region, which included the coast of northwest Africa, southern Iberia (Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar), and several islands such as Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Malta, and the Balearic archipelago, through a network of colonies, vassals, and satellite states.

Notable Structures


The Carthage Amphitheatre, built during the first century CE in the city of Carthage in Tunisia, was an amphitheatre of Roman origin that was reconstructed by Julius Caesar, who held the position of Dictator, and later served as the capital of Africa Proconsularis. The problem of predators at the archaeological site is limited to the arena only. The structure was greatly admired by travelers, particularly in the Middle Ages. A dated inscription confirms that it was operational from 133-139 AD. Later, in the third century, the amphitheater underwent expansion.


Baths of Antoninus
The Baths of Antoninus (also known as the Antonine Baths or the Baths of Carthage) are a set of ancient Roman public baths located in Carthage, Tunisia. The baths were built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and were used for more than two centuries before falling into disuse.

The Antonine Baths are one of the largest surviving Roman baths in North Africa and cover an area of approximately 10 hectares. The complex consists of a series of interconnected buildings, including large bathing halls, an exercise yard, a library, and various other rooms and facilities.

The baths were constructed using a combination of brick and concrete and were decorated with elaborate mosaics, frescoes, and marble sculptures. The complex was supplied with water from a nearby aqueduct and had a sophisticated system of heating and plumbing.


Villa of the Aviary
The Villa of the Aviary (Villa de La Volière) is the main attraction of the park, which was restored extensively in the 1960s CE. The villa gets its name from the aviary mosaic (inspect) in the garden, which depicts birds among the foliage. The mosaic is situated in the viridarium, which is at the center of a square courtyard surrounded by a portico decorated with pink marble pillars. To the southwest, there is a terrace that faces the street, while a vaulted gallery to the west serves as a support against the ground pressure. The atrium of the building is located to the east, and to the north are the ceremonial rooms, prestigious flats, laraire, and vestibule. The baths and shops were on the upper floor, while the owners' private flats were on the top floor, with shops located beneath the terraced portico. A weatherproof promenade is situated below the cryptoporticus.


Roman Theatre
The Roman Theatre, situated in the northeastern part of the ancient city, has its seating area (cavea) supported by the southwest slope of a large hill. An odeum was constructed at the summit of the hill in the early third century CE. Paul Gauckler excavated the theater in 1904-1905 CE, revealing the stage, orchestra, lower part of the cavea, and a section of the upper cavea with its crowning portico. Gauckler began restoring the theater while excavating it, and further restorations were made from 1906 CE. The decision was made to use the theater for modern performances.

According to Tertullian's introduction to the Florides, the cavea was decorated with rich and splendid marbles, a parquet floor on the proscenium, and haughty pillars. The frons scænae had a marble and porphyry colonnade, numerous statues, and high-quality epigraphic ornaments. The theater covers an area of about four blocks and probably dates back to the times of Augustus. It is the second largest Roman theater in Africa, with only the one in Utica being larger. Fragments of inscriptions found in the theater indicate repairs were made in the fourth century.

The present building has very few remains of the original Roman stands, as it was renovated and became the site of the International Festival of Carthage in 1964. The semicircular walls were added in the early 20th century for costume production. The theater also has a significant place in contemporary history, as Winston Churchill delivered a speech to his armies there during World War II. The theater was restored again in 1967 to host the International Festival of Carthage.


Byrsa Acropolis
The Byrsa Hill or Acropolis was the walled citadel in the ancient city of Carthage, which sat on a hill overlooking the Phoenician harbour. Byrsa was a crucial military installation and was even featured on Carthaginian currency as 𐤁𐤀𐤓𐤏𐤕‎ (bʾrʿt). Scipio Aemilianus Africanus laid siege to the citadel during the Third Punic War, leading to Carthage's defeat and destruction in 146 BCE. Byrsa became the seat of the proconsul of Africa in the Roman Empire and was later ruled by Vandal kings until the Byzantine emperor Justinian regained control in 533. In 1884, St Louis Cathedral was built on the site of an ancient temple on Byrsa Hill, which is now part of the Carthage archaeological site. Today, the hill also houses the Carthage National Museum and serves as a cultural center.

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