Best known as ancient Rome’s rival in the Punic Wars, Carthage was a North African commercial hub that flourished for over 500 years.
The city-state began its life in the 8th or 9th century B.C. as a Phoenician settlement in what is now Tunisia, but it later grew into a sprawling seafaring empire that dominated trade in textiles, gold, silver and copper.
At its peak, its capital city boasted nearly half a million inhabitants and included a protected harbour outfitted with docking bays for 220 ships.
Carthage’s influence eventually extended from North Africa to Spain and parts of the Mediterranean, but its thirst for expansion led to increased friction with the burgeoning Roman Republic.
Beginning in 264 B.C., the ancient superpowers clashed in the three bloody Punic Wars, the last of which ended in 146 B.C. with the near-total destruction of Carthage.
Today, almost all that remains of the once-mighty empire is a series of ruins in the city of Tunis.