Was there a state or kingdom in North Africa before the arrival of the Phoenicians and the foundation of Carthage in 814 BC, except the primitive Capcian civilization?

  • 9
    Does Egypt not count as being part of North Africa?
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 13:41
  • yes it's a good comment, But in my knowledge ancient Egypt they did not extend to the northwestern coast of the African continent, I wondered if there was a civilization that preceded the Carthaginians, Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 13:56
  • 1
    @Semaphore - oddly, Herodotus divided Asia and Africa along the Nile
    – user8690
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 14:52
  • 6
    @Semaphore - I've added the term "Maghreb", but left in North Africa, as many aren't familiar with the former term. However, it is the case that historically "North Africa" as a term is often used in a sense that is exclusive of Egypt.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 15:18
  • Carthage itself was "created by former Phoenicians" it was Phoenician colony and I'm sure that you might have learnt in history -I suppose you're from the Maghreb states- that Phoenicians have had some colonies for trade issues in (western) north Africa and if there where only them why should they build colonies? And with whom would they trade? Isn't the first lesson you learn that the ancient inhabitants of Maghreb where Berbers (Amazighs) I've learnt it before discussing the Phoenicians.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


Not really, no.

Carthage itself started out as a Phoenician colony, along with Utica probably in the 8th Century BC. The Phoenicians themselves were a Northwest Semitic people whose language was closely related to Hebrew and fairly closely to Amorite and Aramaic.

These western Phoenician outposts' main purpose was to help Phoenician traders manage the western part of their Mediterranean trade routes. As such, the fact that there was no major civilization there upon founding was actually a point in favor of the area. As it was, they still had to pay protection tribute to the nearby Berber tribes.

Throughout its history the city lived mostly off of trade (or its empire), and quite well at that during certain points. However, it appears the location wasn't really that useful to an ancient society without that trade flowing into or through it. There is a strip on the coast of North(west) Africa suitable for growing Mediterranean Climate crops, but it doesn't extend very far south of Carthage. So without that existing trade route to service, there wouldn't have been much reason for a civilization to develop there on its own, and the Phoenicians essentially founded those trade routes.

enter image description here


When Dido, the founder of Carthage arrived to the place, she purchased land from the Berber king Iarbas. Berbers kingdoms pre-date the founding of Carthage. Of course there were also other states in North Africa, see the comment of Semaphore. How "primitive" they were is a question of opinion.

  • Sources would improve this answer. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 14:52
  • 10
    I believe the details in this answer are based on its founding myths. While those shouldn't be taken as gospel, this answer is true for the most part. However, if you measure Civilization in cities, I don't believe the Berber kingdoms left behind any sizeable cities from that period, and certainly nothing to rival Carthage or Utica. If you measure it in literacy, the Phoenicians introduced literacy to this area.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 14:54
  • "based on myths". Yes, because no other written sources survives. On "ruins of the cities", it is hard to tell. We know from history that Carthage was several times thoroughly destroyed, with the intention to make the place uninhabitable.
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:03
  • 1
    @fdb - Right. That's what I was getting at. While the actual people with those actual names may not have existed, certainly someone founded Carthage, and some kind of accommodation was made with whoever's territory it was founded within. So the rough outline of what happened in that story (and thus the main point of this answer) is probably accurate enough. But those two figures are roughly akin to Romulus and Remus.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 22:00
  • 1
    @Medi1Saif - It doesn't have a reference for that sentence at the bottom? I tried googling this (in English) and didn't find anything useful. I'd find anything like that fairly surprising, as the Berbers didn't really establish trans-Saharan contact in that part of Africa until about a millennium later. It seems possible for there to have been contact with Nilo-Saharans (Nubians) via the Nile while they were running Egypt, but if so I've never heard about it before, and would be fascinated to read more about it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 20:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.