Carthage vied with Rome for dominance in the Mediterranean in the 3rd century BCE: for its temerity, Rome razed it to the ground in 146 BCE. But the advantages of the site prevailed, and a new city grew up there; by 145 CE, it was the third city of the Roman Empire with a population of c. 300,000. Its excellent harbours, for both commercial and military use, were key to its prosperity. North Africa was the grain basket of the empire, and its produce was shipped from Carthage’s harbours. One of the longest aqueducts in the empire brought water from the Tunisian Mountains to the great cistern at Malga on the city’s edge, a further cistern supplied the fêted Antonine baths. The monumental city centre comprised the Capitol, the seat of provincial government, the forum, and main temples. Theatres, a hippodrome and amphitheatre completed the standard Roman prerequisites for comfortable living.
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