Why Was Carthage Destroyed? A Re-Examination from an Economic Perspective
The story of Rome’s destruction of the once buoyant maritime city of Carthage in 146 B.C. has been explained by many scholars, generally, in terms of the fear and security threats posed by Carthaginian naval authority and great trade across the Mediterranean. This kind of generalization leaves little room for other intrinsic causes of the destruction and plays down the core policies that characterized Roman imperialism in North Africa during the Republican times.
Adopting the political economy approach, this paper, therefore, re-examines from the economic perspective, the principles and dynamics which underlined the international relations of Rome in Africa during the stirring times of the second and third Punic wars with a view to identifying the strong economic motives that led to the eventual annihilation of Carthage. The paper shows that Carthaginian Africa was a region of great economic potential in the western Mediterranean. It reveals that Rome was a typically imperialistic state which employed various divide et impera stratagems to exploit the rich agricultural resources of the region. The paper concludes that the crippling of Carthage was premised not just on the fear or jealousy of Carthage but more importantly on the Roman desire to exploit the North African vast territories, wealth and agricultural resources.