In 146 BC the huge coastal metropolis of Carthage was taken by storm and completely destroyed by the Roman army. Most of the townspeople died, the survivors fell into slavery. After the city had nothing to rob, the Romans withdrew their troops from it and set fire to what was left of Carthage. The fires lasted another 17 days, the ashes were covered with salt (so that no plants would grow in this place) and ritually cursed by the Roman Senate. The territory of the former empire became the Roman province of Africa with the capital in Uttica – a city that immediately went over to their side after the Romans landed.
The curse of the place where Carthage once stood was considered eternal. However, already in 123 BC a plebiscite in Rome adopted the “law of Rubria”, named after its initiator, the tribune of the people of Guy Rubri Varron. According to this law, it was planned to build on the site of the former Carthage the capital of the new Roman colony, which was named Junonia. And the surrounding lands empty from the time of the war are to be given to the arable lands of Roman colonists. But since this law was put forward as part of the land reforms of Guy Gracchus, in the subsequent political struggle it was repealed as a populist one.
Guy Julius Caesar came to the idea of building something on the site of Carthage in 46 BC, but did not manage to do anything, because he was soon killed by the conspirators. Only in 29 BC his successor, Octavian, founded the city here, named after Caesar “Colonia Julia Carthago” (Carthaginian colony Julius). The top of the Birsa hill, where the center of Carthage was once located, was torn down; the whole city was rebuilt according to a purely Roman project. In the city, whose population soon reached 300 thousand people, a circus for 60 thousand spectators was built, theaters, baths, an aqueduct – all the benefits of Roman civilization. The city was inhabited, of course, by the citizens of Rome.
What happened to the other Carthaginians, because not all of them lived in the capital? Some of the Carthaginians lived in other cities, some in the colonies that Carthage had on many islands of the Mediterranean Sea, in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Finally, since Carthage had a huge merchant fleet, many were at sea during the destruction of the capital, transporting goods. What happened to them? It should be noted that Carthage was founded by the Phoenicians, its very name means “New City” in Phoenician. The Phoenicians lived not only in Carthage, Punic (Phoenician) speech could be heard in almost any city on the Mediterranean coast.
In principle, the former citizens of the Carthage empire, after the death of the capital, had several possible ways. Live in one of the former colonies of Carthage, now becoming part of either the Roman Empire or other states. Settle in another metropolis of antiquity, for example, cosmopolitan Alexandria in Egypt, where many of their compatriots lived. And finally, go pirates. It was after the fall of Carthage that piracy in the Mediterranean took on an unprecedented scale. The vacuum of sea power partly affected, since the Carthaginian fleet disappeared, and the Roman after the victory over Carthage became unnecessary and fell into decay. But the former Carthaginians, who did not reconcile themselves to defeat and continued to fight on their personal ships at sea with the hated Rome, also played their role.
The Romans could cope with the rampant piracy only in 67 BC, thanks to Pompey, who waged a real war against them and ultimately destroyed all the main pirate bases. But the Carthaginian merchants who settled in different cities on the sea coast (mainly in Africa) continued to trade and flourished for several centuries. Even half a millennium after the fall of Carthage, conversations in the Punic language could be heard not only in the territory of present-day Tunisia, where this great city once stood, but also along the entire southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as in the coastal cities of Spain, the Middle East, and even Rome itself too. Former Carthaginians, although outwardly assimilated, did not forget about their roots and retained the trading fraternity, which controlled a significant part of Mediterranean maritime trade.