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CARTHAGE

Cartagenna. The tongue of land, which runs from the harbours as far as Goletta, to the mouth of the Catadas which connects the Lake of Tunis with the sea, was known as taenia (ribbon, band) or ligula (diminutive of lingua, tongue). The isthmus connecting the peninsula of Carthage with the mainland was roughly estimated by Polybius as 25 stades (about 15,000 ft.); the peninsula itself, according to Strabo, had a circumference of 360 stades (41 m.). The distance between Gamart and Goletta is about 6 m.

From Byrsa, which is only 195 ft. above the sea, there is a fine view; thence it is possible to see how Carthage was able at once to dominate the sea and the gently undulating plains which stretch westward as far as Tunis and the line of the river Bagradas (mod. Mejerda). On the horizon, on the other side of the Gulf of Tunis, rise the chief heights of the mountain-chain which was the scene of so many fierce struggles between Carthage and Rome, between Rome and the Vandals:—the Bu-Kornaïn (“Two-Horned Mountain”), crowned by the ruins of the temple of Saturn Balcaranensis; Jebel Ressas, behind which lie the ruins of Neferis; Zaghwan, the highest point in Zeugitana; Hammam-Lif, Rades (Ghades, Gades, the ancient Maxula) on the coast, and 10 m. to the south-west the “white” Tunis (λευκὸς Τύνης of Diodorus) and the fertile hills of Ariana. All round Byrsa, alike on the plain and on the slopes, are fields of barley, vineyards and patches of cactus, interrupted only by huge heaps of rubbish and excavation-mounds, the haunts of green lizards, and by houses and villages built of materials drawn for many a century from the ancient ruins.

The ancient harbours were distinguished as the military and the commercial. The remains of the latter are to be seen in a partially ruined artificial lagoon which originally, according to Beulé, had an area of nearly 60 acres; there were, however, in addition a large quay for unloading freight along the shore, and huge basins or outer harbours protected by jetties, the remains of which are still visible at the water-level. The military harbour, known as Cothon, communicated with the commercial by means of a canal now partially ruined; it was circular in shape, surrounded by large docks 16¼ ft. wide, and capable of holding 220 vessels, though its area was only some 22 acres. In the centre was an islet from which the admiral could inspect the whole fleet.[1]

Among the other ruins which have been identified are the circus or hippodrome, traversed by the railway at the north of the village of Duar-es-Shat; the forum, between Cothon and Byrsa, where stood the Curia, the regular place of assembly of the senate, and near which were the moneychangers’ shops, the tribunal, the temple of Apollo, and in the Byzantine period the baths of Theodora. Three main streets led from the forum to Byrsa.

The hill of St Louis, the ancient citadel of Byrsa, has a circuit of 4525 ft. It appears to have been surrounded at least at certain points by several lines of fortifications. It was, however, dismantled by P. Scipio Africanus the younger, in 146 B.C., and was only refortified by Theodosius II. in A.D. 424; subsequently its walls were again renewed by Belisarius in 553. On the plateau of Byrsa have been found the most ancient of the Punic tombs, huge cisterns in the eastern part, and near the chapel of St Louis the foundations of the famous temple of Eshmun (see below), and the palace of the Roman proconsul.

About 325 ft. from the railway station of La Malga are the still imposing ruins of the amphitheatre. Near by, at the spot called Bir el Jebana, Père Delattre has discovered four cemeteries, one of which contains the tombs of state officials or servants of the imperial government. Rather more than half a mile north-west of Byrsa are the huge cisterns of La Malga, which, at the time of the Arab geographer, Idrīsī, still comprised twenty-four parallel covered reservoirs, 325 ft. by 711/2 ft.; of these fourteen only remain.

On the hill of the Petit Séminaire, which is separated from Byrsa by a valley, Père Delattre has discovered a Christian basilica, the baths of Gargilius, large graves with several levels of tombs, and much débris of sculpture, which, however, is insufficient to enable us to say that this is the site of the temple of Tanit or Juno Caelestis. The quarter of Dermèche, near the sea, whose name recalls the Latin Thermis or Thermas, is remarkable for the imposing remains of the baths (thermae) of Antoninus. In one place called Douimés was the Ceramicus where excavation has discovered a graceful basilica, proto-Punic tombs, potters’ ovens with numerous terra-cotta moulds which were abandoned after the siege in 146 B.C., and finally a Roman palace with superb marble statues. Farther on are huge reservoirs of Borj-Jedid which are sufficiently well-preserved to be used again.

Behind the small fort of Borj-Jedid is the plateau of the Odeum where the theatre and fine marble statues of the Roman period have been laid bare; beyond is the great Christian basilica of Damus-el-Karita (perhaps a corruption of Domus Caritatis); in the direction of Sidi-bu-Saïd is the platea nova, the huge stairway of which, like so many other Carthaginian buildings, has of late years been destroyed by the Arabs for use as building material; on the coast near St Monica is the necropolis of Rabs where Delattre dug up fine anthropoid sarcophagi of the Punic period.

In the quarter of Megara (Magaria, mod. La Marsa) it would seem that there never were more than isolated buildings, villas in the midst of gardens. At Jebel Khaui (Cape Kamart) there is a great necropolis, the sepulchral chambers of which were long ago rifled by Arabs and Vandals. This cemetery had a Jewish quarter.

We must mention finally the gigantic remains in the western plain of the Roman aqueduct which carried water from Jebel Zaghwan (Mons Zeugitanus) and Juggar (Zucchara) to the cisterns of La Malga. From the nymphaeum of Zaghwan to Carthage this aqueduct is 61 Roman miles (about 56 English miles) long; in the plain of Manuba its arches are nearly 49 ft. high.

Though several famous travellers visited and described the ruins of Carthage during the first thirty years of the 19th century, such as Major Humbert, Chateaubriand, Estrup, no scientific investigations took place till 1833. In that year Captain Falbe, Danish consul at Tunis, made a plan of the ruins so far as they were visible. In 1837 there was formed in Paris, on the initiative of Dureau de la Malle, a Société pour les fouilles de Carthage; under the auspices of this body Falbe and Sir Grenville Temple undertook researches, and a little later Sir Thomas Read, English consul, following the example of the Genoese and the Pisans, carried away to England the mosaics, columns and statues of the baths of Antoninus. The Abbé Bourgade, chaplain of the church of St Louis erected in 1841, collected together Punic stelae and other antiquities from the surrounding plain; these formed the nucleus of the magnificent museum subsequently formed by Père Delattre at the instigation of Cardinal Lavigerie. Between 1856 and 1858 Nathan Davis made excavations on the supposed site of the Odeum, and in 1859 Beulé undertook his celebrated investigations on Byrsa. Among other explorers were A. Daux in 1866; von Maltzan in 1870; E. de Sainte-Marie in 1874; Ch. d’Hérisson in 1883; E. Babelon and S. Reinach in 1884; Vernaz in 1885; Gauckler in 1903. Of these the majority were sent officially by the French government. But their attempts were partial, disjointed and without any systematic plan; they were entirely superseded by the brilliant and persevering work of R. P. Delattre. The Musée Lavigerie, the result of his labours, contains a vast archaeological treasure, the interest of which is doubled by the fact that it stands in the very midst of the ancient site. Unfortunately Delattre’s work suffered too often from the absence of a cordial understanding with the directors of the antiquities department, La Blanchère and P. Gauckler, who, having themselves undertaken excavations, transported their finds to the Bardo museum, by the help of the public funds at their disposal.

The main authority for the topography and the history of the excavations is Aug. Audollent’s Carthage romaine (Paris, 1901). A topographical and archaeological map of the site was published under the direction of Colonel Dolot and with the assistance of Delattre and Gauckler by the Ministère de l’Instruction Publique in 1907.

History.—The history of Carthage falls into four periods: (1) from the foundation to the beginning of the wars with the Sicilian Greeks in 550 B.C.; (2) from 550 to 265, the first year of the Punic Wars; (3) the Punic Wars to the fall of Carthage in

  1. The whole question of these harbours has been fully discussed by Cecil Torr, Otto Meltzer, R. Öhler, S. Gsell, M. de Roquefeuil; see Aug. Audollent, Carthage romaine, pp. 198 seq.; Revue archéol. 3rd series, xxiv.; Jahrbüch f. class. Philologie, vols. cxlvii., cxlix.; also Classical Review, vols. v., vii., viii.