Archaeology Odyssey 3:6, November/December 2000

“Carthage Must be Destroyed”

But must it be forgotten?

By David Soren

Turn on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel and chances are you’ll see programs about the wonderful accomplishments of the ancient Greeks and Romans. But what about that other great, contemporaneous, central Mediterranean power: the nearly forgotten city-state of Carthage?

Most of us recall that the Carthaginian king Hannibal (c. 247–182 B.C.), the scourge of Rome, led elephants and soldiers over the Alps to inflict heavy casualties on unsuspecting Italian armies. We all learned that the Romans defeated Hannibal—but what else do we really know about this enigmatic people? The French writer Gustave Flaubert set his novel SalammboÆ (1862) in third-century B.C. Carthage, after visiting the scant Carthaginian ruins and becoming fascinated by ancient accounts of their fondness for human sacrifice. Epic movies of the l950s such as Carthage in Flames show the Carthaginians sacrificing virgins to their chief god, Ba’al. So is that who the Carthaginians were, war-mongering virgin-killers?

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