From the 6th century BC, following the fall of Tyre, Carthage became the main Phoenician city. This period will be marked by an alliance with the Etruscans and an expansion of the Phoenician city in the Western Mediterranean.
From the fall of Tyr, Carthage takes the measure of its new role, that of leader of the Phoenician world. The first highlight will be its alliance with the Etruscans. This alliance is supported by several archaeological clues. First of all, there are the slats of Pyrgi. These bladelets were found on Italian soil with both Phoenician and Etruscan texts. Dated from around 500 BC, they attest to a temple erected to the glory of Astarte, a Phoenician deity, by the Etruscan king Thefarie Velianas, king of Caeré, near Rome. In addition, the Carthage excavations also yielded an inscription in Etruscan intended to introduce an individual, possibly a Punic merchant. This inscription, which was found on the so-called hill of Saint Monica, may have been written in the Etruscan city of Vulci. These elements are added to numerous bucchero ceramics, typical of the Etruscan world, which confirm early trade links, from the 7th century BC and at least until the beginning of the 5th century BC.
The Phoenician-Punic space
Following the fall of Tyr, Carthage therefore concluded an alliance with the Etruscans but its territory remained very fragmented. Indeed, it is basically a confederation of Tyrian colonies which will, after the fall of the colonizing city, regroup behind the most powerful of them, Carthage. We know that Carthage was at that time given the responsibility of ensuring the collective security and foreign policy of the Phoenician world. Nevertheless, a doubt remains on the fact that she was also in charge of ensuring the commercial policy of the Phoenician world. Indeed, the different components of the Punic space seem to have had a great deal of autonomy, particularly in terms of trade policy. The African possessions of Carthage, for example, would have suffered particularly badly from the exploitation of their labor for agricultural purposes by Carthage, and this would have led to brutal revolts, proof that Carthage’s hold on the Phoenician world was not total. Anyway, and even if its territory seems fragile and divided, Carthage will begin to extend its hold on the Western Mediterranean.
The arrival of Greek settlers
Because of their alliance with the Etruscans, the Carthaginians were able to expand mainly in the western Mediterranean. They began to set up colonies in Sicily, Africa, Sardinia and Spain. These expansions allowed them to practice a lucrative trade along the coasts. But the rise of Greek settlers who had begun to settle as early as 750 BC began to upset the status quo that had been established between Phoenicians and Etruscans. A phenomenon which was amplified by the taking of the mother city of the Phocaeans, Phocaea by the Persians in 546 BC Indeed, the migrations of the Phocaean populations towards their colonies transformed the latter into important commercial centres. Additionally, the Greeks began to expand their influence in Spain, a country where the Carthaginians had established large colonies. Moreover, to make matters worse, the Phocaeans indulged in piracy. All these actions could not leave the Punico-Etruscan alliance without reactions…
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