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. Jan 18, 2013 at 14:29
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    @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, 2013 at 14:30
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    @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, 2013 at 14:35
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    @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, 2013 at 14:41
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    @YannisRizos - the point is that "civilization" is not really defined precisely enough to be able to answer with an unambiguous "yes" and "no". Your own answer is a great answer to "What were the differences and similarities", but doesn't contain unequivocal "yes/no" proof, because it just can't be done
    – DVK
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


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, 2013 at 15:26

First we need to put some things in the right order. Dido was said to be the founder of Carthage. But history records little of her (most of which are said to be Myths)

Trying to get your answer, I think it is necessary we know how the small land given to Dido became an empire. Was it through the Natives, or she called for Phoenicians to be her new citizens?

The former can easily point out the reason for the distinctions, while the latter will partially prove the relationships.

One should also remember that Phoenicians travelled to Carthage after the defeat of Alexander, (a point raised in some contents of this Forum) which means after three centuries of Carthage being an empire and five centuries from the era of Dido.

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