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CARTHA´GO NOVA (Καρχηδών; νέα, Polyb., Strab., Ptol., Liv., Mel., Plin., Steph. B. sub voce s. v., &c.; Καίνη πόλις, Plb. 2.13, 3.13, &c., Steph. B. sub voce s. vv. Ἀλθαία, Καρχηδών; κατὰ τὴν Ἰβηρίαν, Καρχηδών, Plb. 10.15, Ath. iii. p. 92; Hispana, Carthago, Flor. 2.6; Καρχηδών; σπαρταγενὴς, Appian. Iber. 12, Steph. B. sub voce Carthago Spartaria, Plin. Nat. 31.8. s. 43, Itin. Ant. pp. 396, 401; Isidor. Orig. 15.1; very often simply Carthago: Eth. and Adj. Καρχηδόνιος, Eth. Carthaginiensis: Cartagena), a celebrated city of Hispania Tarraconensis, near the S. extremity of the E. coast, in the territory of the Contestani (Ptol. 2.6.14) on the frontiers of the Sidetani. (Strab. iii. p.163.) It was a colony of Carthage, and was built B.C. 242 by Hasdrubal, the son-in-law of Hamilcar Barca, and his successor in Spain. (Strab. iii. p.158; Plb. 2.13; Mela, 2.6.7; Solin. 23; Diod. 25.2; Polyaen. Stratag. 8.16, πόλις φοινίσσα. There was a legend of an older settlement on its site by Teucer, in his wanderings after the Trojan War. (Just. 44.3.3; Sil. Ital. 3.368, xv, 192.) The epithet Nova was added to distinguish it from Carthage in Africa the double introduction of the word New (New New City) thus made has been mentioned under CARTHAGO

Its situation was most admirable, lying as it did near the middle of the Mediterranean (or, as the ancients choose to call it, the S.) coast of Spain, at a most convenient position for the passage to Africa (i. e. the Carthaginian territory), and having the only good harbour on that coast. (Plb. 2.13, 10.8; Strab. iii. p.158; Liv. 26.42.) Polybius estimates its distance from the Columns of Hercules at 3000 stadia, and from the Iberus (Ebro) 2600 (3.39). Scipio's army took seven days to reach it from the Ebro, both by land and sea (Plb. 10.9; Liv. 26.42); but at another time ten days. (Liv. 28.32.) Strabo makes its distance along the coast from Calpe 2600 stadia (iii. p. 156), and from Massilia (Marseille) above 6000; and, across the Mediterranean, to the opposite cape of Metagonium, on the coast of the Massaesyli, 3000 stadia (xviii. pp. 827, 828, from Timosthenes; Liv. 28.17). Pliny (3.3. s. 4) gives 187 M. P. for the distance from the neighbouring headland Saturni Pr. (C. de Palos) to Caesareia in Mauretania. The Maritime Itinerary gives 3000 stadia to Caesareia, and 400 stadia to the island of Ebusus (Itin. Ant. pp. 496, 511).

New Carthage stood a little W. of the promontory just named (C. de Palos), at the bottom of a bay looking to the S., in the mouth of which lay an island (Herculis or Scombraria I.1), which sheltered [p. 1.553]it from every wind except the SW. (Africus), and left only a narrow passage on each side, so that it formed an excellent harbour. (Sil. Ital. 15.220:--

Carthago impenso Naturae adjuta favore, Excelsos tollit pelago circumflua muros.)
Polybius gives twenty stadia for the depth of this bay, and ten for its breadth at the mouth. Livy, who copies the description of Polybius, gives by some mistake 500 paces (instead of 2500) for the depth, and a little more for the breadth. The city was built on an elevated tongue of land, projecting into the bay, surrounded by the sea on the E. and S., and on the W., and partly on the N. by a lake having an artificial communication with the sea, the remaining space, or isthmus, being only 250 paces wide; and it was only accessible from the mainland by a narrow path along the ridge. The city stood comparatively low, in a hollow of the peninsula, sloping down to the sea on the S.; but on the land side it was entirely surrounded on all sides by heights, the two at the extremities being mountainous and rugged, and the three between them lower, but steep and rocky. On the eastern height, which jutted out into the sea, stood the temple of Aesculapius (Esmun), the chief deity here, as Carthage; on the western, the palace built by Hasdrubal; of the intervening hills, the one nearest to the E. was sacred to Hephaestus, that on the W. to Saturn, and the middle one to Aletes, who received divine honours as the discoverer of the silver mines in the neighbourhood. Livy mentions also a hill sacred tb Mercury, perhaps that of Aletes (26.44). We see here an interesting example of the worship on “high places” practised by the race. On the W., the city was connected with the mainland by a bridge across the channel cut from the sea to the lake. (Plb. 10.10; Liv. 26.42; Strab. iii. p.158.) The city was most strongly fortified, and was twenty stadia in circumference. (Plb. 10.11.) Polybius distinctly contradicts those who gave it double this circuit on his own evidence as an eye-witness; and he adds that, in his time (under the Romans), the circuit was still more contracted.

Besides all these advantages, New Carthage had in its immediatevicinity the richest silver mines of Spain, which are incidentally mentioned by Polybius in the preceding account, and were more fully described by him in another passage (34.9), a part of which is preserved by Strabo (iii. pp. 147, 148, 158). The description is taken from their condition under the Romans, who probably only continued the operations of their predecessors. The mines lay twenty stadia (two geog. miles) N. of the city in the mountain spur, which forms the junction of M. Idubeda and M. Orospeda (Strab. iii. p.161); and extended over a space 400 stadia in circumference. They employed 40;000 men, and brought into the Roman treasury 25,000 drachmae daily. After condensing Polybius's description of the mode of extracting the silver, Strabo adds that in his time the silver mines were no longer the property of the state, but only the gold mines; the former belonged to individuals.

Such was the city founded by the second head of the great house of Barca, not perhaps without some view to its becoming the capital of an independent kingdom, if the opposite faction should prevail at Carthage (Plb. 10.10, says that the palace there was built by Hasdrubal μοναρχικῆς ὀρεγόμενον ἐξουσίας). During their government of Spain, it formed the head-quarters of their civil administration and their military power. (Plb. 3.15.3: ὡσανεὶ πρόσχημα καὶ βασίλειον ἦν Καρχηδονίων ἐν το̂ις κατὰ τὴν Ἰβηρίαν τόποις; Liv. 27.7, caput Hispaniae.) There we find Hannibal regularly establishing his winter quarters, and receiving the ambassadors of Rome (Plb. 3.13.7, 15.4, 5, 33.5; Liv. 21.5, 6); and thence he started on the expedition which opened the Second Punic War, B.C. 218. (Plb. 3.39.11.) It remained the Punic head-quarters during the absence of Hannibal (Plb. 3.76.11), who had taken care, before setting out, to make every provision for its safety (3.33). Here were deposited the treasures, the baggage of the Punic army, and the hostages of the Spanish peoples. (Plb. 10.8.3; Liv. 26.42.) The military genius of P. Scipio (afterwards the elder Africanus) at once, on his arrival in Spain, B.C. 211, pointed out the capture of New Carthage as a stroke decisive of the war in Spain; and, as soon as spring opened2, seizing an opportunity when, by some fatal oversight, the garrison was reduced to 1000 men fit for service, he made a rapid march from the Ebro with nearly all his forces, 25,000 infantry and 2500 cavalry, at the same time sending round his fleet under Laelius, who alone was in the secret, and took the city by storm, with frightful slaughter, and the gain of an immense booty, B.C. 210. (Plb. 10.8-19; Liv. 26.42-51.) It was on this occasion that Scipio gave that example of continence, which is so often celebrated by ancient writers. (Polyb.; Liv.; V. Max. 4.3; Gel. 6.8.)

The important city thus gained by the Romans in Hispania Ulterior naturally became the rival of Tarraco, their previous head-quarters in Hispania Citerior. We find Scipio making it his head-quarters (in addition to Tarraco), and celebrating there the games in honour of his father and uncle, B.C. 206. (Liv. 28.18, 21, et alib.) Under the early emperors it was a colony (Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4), with the full name of COLONIA VICTRIX JULIA NOVA CARTHAGO (coins), and the seat of a conventus juridicus, including 65 peoples, besides those of the islands. (Plin. l.c.; BALEARES) It shared with Tarraco the honour of the winter residence of the Legatus Caesaris, who governed the province of Tarraconensis. (Strab. iii. p.167.) Its territory is called by Strabo Carchedonia (Καρχηδονία, p. 161; ager Carthaginiensis, Varr. R. R. 1.57.2). It was the point of meeting of two great roads, the one from Tarraco, the other from Castulo on the Baetis; it was 234 M. P. from the former place, and 203 from the latter. (Itin.. Ant. pp. 396, 401.) As has been seen, its size was already diminished in the time of Polybius; but still it was, in the time of Strabo, a great emporium, both for the export and the import trade of Spain, and the most flourishing [p. 1.554]city of those parts. (Strab. iii. p.158.) It continued to rival TARRACO in importance, till it was almost entirely destroyed by the Goths. S. Isidore, who was a native of the place, speaks of it as desolate in A.D. 595. (Orig. xv. 1.)

Among the natural productions of the land around New Carthage, Strabo mentions a tree, the spines off which furnished a bark, from which beautiful fabrics were woven (iii. p. 175). This was the spartum (σπάρτος: a sort of broom), which was so abundant as to give to the city the name of CARTHAGO SPARTARIA (see names above), and that of Campus Spartarius (τὸ Σπαρτάριον πέδιον, Strab. p. 161) to the surrounding district, for a length of 100 M. P., and a breadth of 30 M. P. from the coast: it also grew on the neighbouring mountains. It was used for making ropes and matted fabrics, first by the Carthaginians, and afterwards by the Greeks and Romans; its manufacture being similar to that of flax. (Plin. Nat. 19.2. s. 7, 8; comp. Plat. Polit. p. 280c.; Xen. Cyn. 9.1. 3; Theophr. H. P. i. s. 5.2.)

New Carthage was one of Ptolemy's points of recorded astronomical observation, having its longest day 14 hrs. 20 min., and being distant 10 hrs. 3 min. W. of Alexandria. (Ptol. 8.4.5.)

Numerous coins are extant, with epigraphs which are interpreted as those of New Carthage; but many of them are extremely doubtful. Those that are certainly genuine all belong to the early imperial period, under Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. Their types are various. The usual epigraphs are V. I. N. K. or C. V. I. N. K. (explained above), and more rarely V. I. N. C. (Florez, Med. de Esp. vol. i. p. 316; Mionnet, vol. i. p. 36, Suppl. vol. i. p. 70; Sestini, p. 123; Num. Goth.; Eckhel, vol. i. pp. 41, foll.)


1 Σκομβραρία, Strab. iii. p.159; Σκομβρασία, Ptol. 2.6.14, from the shores abounding in the fish called σκόμβρος,, a kind of tunny or mackerel, from which was made the best sort of the sauce called garon. (Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 31.8. s. 41.) It is still called Escombrera, as well as simply La Islota, the Islet. Strabo mentions just above the extensive manufacture of cured fish at New Carthage and its neighbourhood (πολλὴ ταριχεία, iii. p. 158).

2 There was, among the contemporary historians, some doubt respecting the true date, which Polybius removes by authority (10.9; Liv. 27.7).

hide References (35 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (32):
    • Xenophon, On Hunting, 9.1
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.10
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.11
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.8
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.8.3
    • Polybius, Histories, 2.13
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.13.7
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.15.3
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.15.4
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.15.5
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.33.5
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.39.11
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.76.11
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.15
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.19
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.9
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.13
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 31.8
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 19.2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 42
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 17
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 32
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 18
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 51
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 6.8
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.6
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 4.3
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 31.8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 7
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.6
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