An illustration depicting Phoenician merchants and traders
The Romans and Carthaginians fought three wars, known as the Punic Wars, from 264 BC to 146 BC. The men of Carthage had settled Sicily and Sardinia, from whose ports their merchant ships sailed and their naval dominance kept down any competition in the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans, who possessed a strong army but a weak navy, attacked the Carthaginians of Sicily in the waters around those islands, seeking to expand their own hegemony in the region. The First Punic War lasted twenty-three years, a bloody affair in which only two pitched battles were fought between the Roman Army and the Carthaginians. For a hundred years Rome had been adding the Italian peninsula to her control, and now it was time to drive the North Africans from Sicily. The sea battles were fought between five-oared wooden ships with infantry and marines for boarding the enemy. The land battles were fought between Roman infantry carrying spears, thrusting or throwing, and a short stabbing sword. The Carthaginians used mostly mercenaries and allies, as well as “war-elephants” to intimidate and trample their foes. Over more than two decades the two sides fought on land and sea, with the Romans victorious in the end, acquiring Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. Both sides suffered enormous casualties and bankrupted both countries.
Depicted above is a Roman soldier killing Archimedes who was renown for his invention of war machines to counteract the traditional siege warfare methods of the Romans.