Carthage was founded as a Phoenician colony near modern Tunis. After the fall of the great Phoenician city of Tyre to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, Carthage became the leader of the Phoenician colonies in the west and founded an informal but powerful Empire. From the 6th century onwards, it developed into a great trading empire covering much of the Mediterranean and was home to a fascinating civilization. During the long Punic wars, Carthage occupied territories belonging to Rome, which finally was destroyed by its rival in the Third Punic War (149-146 BC). In fact, the city of Carthage was destroyed and razed by the Romans in 146 BC. The Romans went from house to house, capturing, raping and enslaving the people before setting Carthage ablaze. After the massive rampage, a second Roman-Carthage was established on the ruins of the first, which became one of the Empire’s largest and the most important city. Carthage continued under Roman influence through the Byzantine Empire (erstwhile the Eastern Roman Empire), who held it against repeated attacks by the Vandals. However, at the Battle of Carthage in 698 CE, the Muslims defeated the Byzantine forces, destroyed the city of Carthage completely, and drove out the Byzantines from Africa.
The Phoenician foundation of Carthage linked to Tyre and Roman re-foundation at the command of Julius Cesar. Carthage was also the capital of a Vandal kingdom and the Byzantine province of Africa. It is the place of assimilation of numerous cultures like Phoenico-Punic, Roman, Paleochristian and Arab, that succeeded one after another.
The archaeological site of Carthage comprises the remnants of Punic, Roman, Vandal, Paleochristian and Arab presence. Apart from the residential area, it includes the acropolis of Byrsa, the Punic ports, the Punic Tophet, the Necropolises, Theatre, Amphitheatre, Circus, Basilicas, the Antoninus baths, Malaga cisterns and others.
The Tophet was a religious sanctuary where the people of Carthage used to worship the sun god Baal-Ammon, and sacrifice the first born child to him to make sure of the god’s favour to the city. One of the most important remains of Roman Carthage is the Baths of Antoninus Pius. Built between AD 146 and 162, in the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, the baths were the largest in the Roman world outside Rome. The 2nd century Roman amphitheatre was a five-story structure with seating arrangement for some 50,000 spectators. It is really unfortunate that, apart from its massive foundation and a few underground rooms, the whole structure has been totally destroyed. The La Malga cisterns, a water reservoir built by the Romans, used to bring water from the Zaghouan hills with the help of an aqueduct 132 km long. The Archaeological Park reflects the long history of Carthage. It proudly contains the Punic graves, the five-aisled Basilica of Douimès dating around the 6th century AD, and an underground burial chapel (the Chapelle Sainte-Monique) of the 7th century.