Ancient Carthage secret

For me, the highlight of a visit to Tunisia was ancient Carthage. The city of Tunis has a number of suburbs. One is Carthage — modern and bustling — but located within it, on the coast, is ancient Carthage. Since I took Latin, I’ve remembered that one Roman senator always concluded his speeches with “Carthage must be destroyed.”

We took the tram to the suburban train to ancient Carthage, where we spent about half a day. There are a number of locations to tour — a museum, a Roman bath and other attractions — but the most interesting, to me, was perhaps the smallest: the man-made island the Carthaginian’s built on which they constructed an “enclosed dry dock,” inside of which they could build or repair their ships.

The Carthaginians were naval rivals of Rome. They won the first two Punic Wars. When Rome finally won the third and came ashore to take a look, they found Carthage’s secret weapon, the dry dock, built so that it could not be seen from the sea. This allowed the Carthaginians to build and equip a navy that could withstand the Romans for so long.

As you may know, Rome sacked Carthage, hauled away its building stones and sowed the ground with salt. Only then did they realize the worth of the island dry dock, so they rebuilt the city — and it is THOSE ruins which are on display!

Sturgis, SD