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Carthage was founded by Phoenicians settlers around 800 BC. Because of its position, and being in a relatively calm area (compared to their homeland), Carthage quickly rose in importance, overtaking not only Tyre, but the entire Phoenicia in both richness and power.

Its inhabitants, descendents of ancient settlers, founded a large number of colonies themselves, ultimately building an empire.

While sharing much with the Phoenicians, they also showed distinct traits. For instance they controlled a vast territory, compared to their ancestors, which relied on trading posts rather than colonies. They were excellent military commanders, whereas the Phoenicians did not produce a general worth of Hannibal.

Are they sufficiently different to be considered a distinct civilization?

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I guess in the final analysis it's a matter of definition. What's a civilization? Do the Greeks and the Romans constitute one or two civilizations? Does the Judeo-Christian civilization count as one or two? It can also depend on context. – Felix Goldberg Jan 18 '13 at 14:29
@FelixGoldberg Do the Greeks and the Romans constitute one or two civilizations? What?!?! (different language, different religion - sort of, different politics, etc) – Yannis Jan 18 '13 at 14:30
@FelixGoldberg - A better comparison would be the USA with England. Are they different cultures, or are they part of a larger English-speaking culture? – T.E.D. Jan 18 '13 at 14:35
@YannisRizos: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Roman_world – Felix Goldberg Jan 18 '13 at 14:40
@FelixGoldberg The word "civilization" doesn't appear in that article... Yes, the geographical and historical proximity of the Greek and Roman civilizations is such that they can be grouped together in extremely broad terms (note the use of the words "world" and "culture"), but there's little doubt that they were distinct civilizations. – Yannis Jan 18 '13 at 14:41

The Carthaginians were in several ways distinct from their Phoenician forefathers, while at the same time remaining a recognizably Phoenician offshoot and maintaining cultural ties with Tyre throughout their history. A notable difference is that the Carthaginians were an aristocratic society, while most other Phoenician city states were hereditary royalties. Furthermore the Carthaginian religion, while a direct continuation of the Phoenician religion, had distinct elements adopted from the local traditions of the civilizations the Carthaginians came into contact with.

I think the more accurate description is that the Carthaginians were a distinct branch of the Phoenician civilization, one that today we commonly refer to as Punics, from their Latin name.

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Related question: is there a civilization between the Atlantic and Babylon, that has not yet been a candidate for the Sea Peoples? :) Good point though, +1 – astabada Jan 18 '13 at 15:26

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