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THIS IS A PAGE DEDICATED TO THE ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS THAT HAVE FALLEN AND LONG SINCE FORGOTTEN.

 

CARTHAGINIAN EMPIRE

(800 BC - 146 BC)

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     DURING THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST MILLENNIUM BC, THE PHOENICIANS BEGAN ESTABLISHING COLONIES AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN TO COMPETE WITH THE GREEKS FOR TRADE.  THE MOST IMPORTANT PHOENICIAN COLONY WAS CARTHAGE.  IT WAS FOUNDED AROUND 800 BC NEAR MODERN TUNIS IN NORTH AFRICA.  ALTHOUGH THE HOME CITIES IN PHOENICIA WERE REPEATEDLY CONQUERED AND SUBJUGATED, THE COLONY OF CARTHAGE PROSPERED AND EXPANDED TO BECOME ONE OF THE GREAT POWERS OF THE WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN.

     TRUE TO THEIR PHOENICIAN HERITAGE, THE CARTHAGINIANS BECAME GREAT SEAFARERS, TRADERS, AND COLONIZERS.  THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE THAT THEY CIRCUMNAVIGATED AFRICA AND VERY QUESTIONABLE EVIDENCE THAT THEY REACHED THE AMERICAS.  THEY CAPITALIZED ON THE TRADE OF IBERIAN SILVER AND BRITISH TIN.  CARTHAGINIAN SETTLEMENTS SPREAD ALONG NORTH AFRICAN COAST, INTO WESTERN SICILY, SARDINIA, CORSICA, MINORCA, AND PORTUGUESE ATLANTIC COAST (WITH SEVERAL TRADE POSTS AND SUPPORT HARBORS).  DURING THE FIFTH AND FOURTH CENTURIES BC THEY FOUGHT WITH THE GREEKS FOR TRADE AND COLONIES, ESPECIALLY IN SICILY.  IN THE THIRD CENTURY, THEY BEGAN A TITANIC CLASH WITH THE RISING POWER OF ROME.

     THE PUNIC WARS BETWEEN ROME AND CARTHAGE WERE FOUGHT TO DECIDE WHICH POWER WOULD DOMINATE THE WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN.  THE FIRST WAR (264 -241 BC) WAS FOUGHT OVER SICILY.  THE ROMANS WERE NOT A NAVAL POWER BUT BUILT FLEETS FROM SCRATCH BASED ON THE PLANS OF A CAPTURED SHIP.  THEIR FIRST TWO FLEETS DEFEATED CARTHAGINIAN FLEETS BUT WERE IN TURN LOST TO STORMS.  THEIR THIRD FLEET COMPLETED THE DEFEAT OF THE CARTHAGINIANS AT SEA.  THE CARTHAGINIANS WERE FORCED OUT OF SICILY, AND LOST CORSICA AND SARDINIA AS WELL.

     THE SECOND PUNIC WAR (218 - 201 BC) WAS A TEMPORARY IMPROVEMENT OF CARTHAGINIAN FORTUNES AND NEAR VICTORY.  THE WAR WAS TRIGGERED BY THE GREAT GENERAL HANNIBAL WHO MARCHED OUT OF MODERN SPAIN, ACROSS MODERN FRANCE, AND INTO MODERN ITALY ACROSS THE ALPS WITH A LARGE ARMY, INCLUDING WAR ELEPHANTS.  IN A BRILLIANT CAMPAIGN OF 16 YEARS, HANNIBAL DEFEATED THE ROMANS AT EVERY TURN, ALTHOUGH HE LACKED THE CRITICAL STRENGTH TO TAKE ROME ITSELF AND END THE WAR.  UNABLE TO DEFEAT HANNIBAL'S ARMY IN ITALY, THE ROMANS ATTACKED THE CARTHAGINIANS FIRST IN SPAIN AND THEN IN NORTH AFRICA.  HANNIBAL WAS CALLED OUT OF ITALY TO DEFEND THE HOMELAND.  AT THE DECISIVE BATTLE AT ZAMA, THE ROMANS DESTROYED THE CARTHAGINIAN ARMY.

     CARTHAGE WAS FORCED TO GIVE UP ITS OVERSEAS POSSESSIONS, PAY A LARGE INDEMNITY, REDUCE ITS FLEET, AND BECOME SUBSERVIENT TO ROME.  BY 150 BC THE CITY HAD RECOVERED AND WAS SEEN AGAIN AS A THREAT.  WHEN THE CARTHAGINIANS ATTACKED NUMIDIA, A ROMAN ALLY, THE ROMANS RESPONDED BY ATTACKING CARTHAGE ONCE MORE.  THIS TIME THE CITY WAS DESTROYED UTTERLY AND ITS POWER BROKEN FOREVER.  A SYMBOLIC FURROW WAS PLOWED THROUGH THE CITY AND SOWN WITH SALT TO SHOW THAT THE CITY WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO REVIVE.

 

 

MACEDONIAN EMPIRE

(323 BC - 146 BC)

 

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     THE MACEDONIANS WERE GREEK PEOPLE THAT POPULATED THE SOUTH CENTRAL BALKAN PENINSULA.  IN 338 BC, KING PHILIP II OF MACEDONIA CONQUERED THE GREEK CITY STATES.  PHILIP'S SON, ALEXANDER THE GREAT, CONQUERED NEARLY EVERY CIVILIZATION FROM EGYPT TO INDIA, BUILDING A HUGE EMPIRE IN WHICH CULTURE AND ART FLOURISHED.  AFTER ALEXANDER'S DEATH IN 323 BC, HIS EMPIRE WENT THROUGH MANY YEARS OF TURMOIL AS HIS SENIOR GENERALS AND FAMILY MEMBERS VIED FOR CONTROL.  BY 301 BC, ALEXANDER'S MOTHER, WIFE, SON, AND HALF BROTHER HAD ALL BEN MURDERED.  FOLLOWING THE BATTLE OF IPSUS THAT YEAR IN ASIA MINOR, THE EMPIRE WAS DIVIDED INTO FOUR KINGDOMS ----- MACEDONIA, THRACE, EGYPT, AND PERSIA.  ALTHOUGH EGYPT AND PERSIA BOTH INITIALLY CLAIMED SYRIA, PERSIA ANNEXED IT BY 281 BC.  IN 227 BC, ANTIGONOS GONATAS (A DESCENDANT OF ANTIGONOS, ONE OF ALEXANDER'S GENERALS) BECAME KING OF THE GREEK KINGDOM OF MACEDONIA AND ESTABLISHED THE RULING ANTIGONID DYNASTY, WHICH REIGNED UNTIL ITS CONQUEST BY THE ROMANS.  TOGETHER WITH SYRIA AND EGYPT, MACEDONIA BECAME ONE OF THE THREE GREAT KINGDOMS OF HELLENISTIC WORLD.  MACEDONIA'S ATTEMPT TO EXPAND ITS TERRITORIES MET GREAT OPPOSITION FROM PYRRHUS AND THE CONFEDERATION OF THE CITY-STATES OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN GREECE.  (ATHENS BRIBED ITS WAY  OUT OF THE CONFEDERATION AND BECAME A NEUTRAL STATE, BUT NEVER REGAINED ITS PAST PROMINENCE.)

     DURING THE THIRD CENTURY BC, PYRRHUS CAME TO THE AID OF THE GREEK COLONIES IN SOUTHERN ITALY AND SICILY THAT WERE FIGHTING THE ROMANS IN ITALY.  THE EARLY VICTORIES BY PYRRHUS WERE SO COSTLY AND HAD SO LITTLE EFFECT (THUS THE EXPRESSION, "PYRRHIC VICTORIES") THAT THE GREEKS WERE FORCED TO WITHDRAW BY 275 BC.  DURING THE SECOND PUNIC WAR THE GREEKS ACTIVELY AIDED HANNIBAL AGAINST THE ROMANS.  IN THIS SAME PERIOD THE GREEKS FOUGHT THE ROMANS, WHO HAD INVADED LLYRIA (NORTHEAST ADRIATIC COAST FROM MODERN NORH ALBANIA TO CROATIA) TO PUT AND END TO PIRACY IN THE ADRIATIC

     BY 202 BC, THE KINGDOM OF MACEDONIA WAS STRUGGLING TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE CITY-STATES OF THE GREEK PENINSULA, WHICH WERE JOINING TOGETHER IN REBELLION.  A SMALL ROMAN ARMY CAME TO THEIR AID AND, BY 196 BC, DEFEATED THE KINGDOM OF MACEDONIA AT THE BATTLE OF PYDNA IN 168 BC, AND ROMOVED THE ANTOGONIDS FROM POWER.  THE ROMANS ATTEMPTED TO LEAVE THE OTHER GREEK CITY-STATES ON THEIR OWN,  BUT THE KINGDOM OF MACEDONIA TOOK UP ARMS AGAIN.  ROMAN PATIENCE WITH THE GREEK CITY-STATES WAS EXHAUSTED BY UNREST IN CORINTH IN 147BC, SO THEY BESIEGED AND SACKED THAT CITY IN 146 BC.  AS A LESSON TO THE OTHER CITY-STATES, THE CITIZENS OF CORINTH WERE SOLD INTO SLAVERY, THE BUILDINGS WERE TORN DOWN, AND ANYTHING OF VALUE WAS SHIPPED HOME TO ROME.

 

 

PALMYRAN EMPIRE

(64 BC - 273 AD)

 

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     FOLLOWING THE COLLAPSE OF THE SELEUCID EMPIRE IN 64 BC (ONE OF THE VESTIGES OF ALEXANDER'S EMPIRE), A NO-MAN'S LAND EXISTED IN THE MIDDLE EAST BETWEEN THE ROMAN EMPIRE TO THE WEST OF THE PARTHIAN EMPIRE TO THE EAST.  THE PEOPLE OF TADMOR, A DESERT CITY LOCATED AT AN OASIS ON THE EAST-WEST TRADE ROUTE, ESTABLISHED A DESERT POLICE FORCE THAT PROTECTED THE TRADE BETWEEN DAMASCUS AND THE EUPHRATES RIVER.  THEY GREW RICH ON THIS TRADE AND THEIR CITY BECAME KNOWN TO THE ROMANS AS PALMYRA (PLACE OF PALMS).  AROUND 17 AD PALMYRA BECAME PART OF ROMAN SYRIA WHILE RETAINING MUCH INDEPENDENCE AND ITS DESERT ARMY.  IN 129 PALMYRA WAS GRANTED THE STATUS OF A FREE CITY AND LATER WAS MADE A ROMAN COLONY.

     AFTER THE PERSIANS DEFEATED AND CAPTURED THE ROMAN EMPEROR VALERIAN IN 260, A PALMYRAN NOBLEMAN WAS MADE DUX ORIENTIS (DUKE, OR WARLORD, OF THE EAST----ALMOST A CO-EMPEROR) AND GIVEN ROMAN SUPPORT.  THE PALMYRAN ARMY DEFEATED THE PERSIANS (CAPTURING THEIR CAPITAL AT CTESIPHON ON TWO OCCASIONS) AND RECONQUERED MESOPOTAMIA.  FOLLOWING THE SUSPICIOUS MURDER OF THE DUX ORIENTIS IN 276, HIS WIFE ZENOBIA TOOK THE THRONE AND CLAIMED THE TITLE OF AUGUSTUS FOR HER INFANT SON.  THE ROMANS WERE SUSPICIOUS OF THESE CHANGES BUT AN ARMY THEY SENT EAST WAS DEFEATED BY ZENOBIA, WHO WAS A COMPETENT WAR LEADER.  THE PALMYRANS THEN OCCUPIED EGYPT AND PUSHED THE GOTHS BACK OUT OF ASIA MINOR.  BY THIS TIME THE PALMYRAN EMPIRE STRETCHED FROM ASIA MINOR TO MESOPOTAMIA TO EGYPT.  ITS ARMY CONSISTED MAINLY OF ARCHERS, HORSE ARCHERS, AND HEAVY CAVALRY.

     THE ROMANS COULD NOT IGNORE THE REVOLT OF THE PALMYRANS AND THE LOSS OF THE GRAIN SUPPLIES FROM EGYPT.  ONE ARMY WAS DISPATCHED TO EGYPT TO REESTABLISH CONTROL THERE.  THE EMPEROR AURELIUS (AN EX-CAVALRY OFFICER) LED A SECOND ARMY INTO SYRIA AND DEFEATED THE PALMYRANS TWICE, AT ANTIOCH AND EMESA.  ROMAN LIGHT CAVALRY BESTED THE PALMYRAN CATAPHRACTS.  PALMYRA WAS BESIEGED AND SURRENDERED.  QUEEN ZENOBIA WAS CAUGHT TRYING TO FLEE BUT WAS ALLOWED TO RETIRE INTO EXILE AFTER BEING PARADED THROUGH THE STREETS OF ROME.  PALMYRA REVOLTED ONCE MORE AFTER THE EMPEROR DEPARTED,  MASSACRING THE ROMAN GARRISON.  THE LEGIONS RETURNED QUICKLY AND SACKED THE CITY.  IT CONTINUED TO EXIST FOR MANY MORE CENTURIES BUT NEVER RETURNED TO PROMINENCE.

 

 

ROMAN EMPIRE

(750 BC - 476 AD)

 

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     THE ROMANS BEGAN AS A SMALL TRIBE LIVING IN MODERN ITALY BUT EXPANDED TO CREATE THE LARGEST AND LONGEST LASTING EMPIRE OF ANTIQUITY.  THEY WERE A HARDY AND INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE WHO SURVIVED IN A VIOLENT WORLD MAINLY BY CREATING A POWERFUL ARMY.  THE ROMAN ARMY WENT THROUGH MANY CHANGES OVER THE THOUSAND YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE AND FAILED EVENTUALLY TO DEFEND THE EMPIRE, BUT IN GENERAL IT WAS CONSISTENTLY SUPERIOR TO OPPO9NENTS FROM ALL CORNERS OF THE WORLD.  THE EMPIRE EXPANDED ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RUTHLESS AND AGGRESSIVE ROMAN LEGIONS, AND CONSOLIDATED THROUGH BENIGN ADMINISTRATION AND PUBLIC WORKS ON AN UNPRECEDENTED SCALE.

     THE PEOPLE WHO BECAME THE ROMANS MIGRATED FROM NORTHERN EUROPE AND SETTLED ON THE PLAINS SOUTH OF THE TIBER RIVER.  THEY ESTABLISHED TOWNS ON THE SEVEN HILLS NEAR THE RIVER.  THESE TOWNS EVENTUALLY MERGED TO FORM THEIR CAPITAL CITY OF ROME.  AS FIRST A REPUBLIC AND THEN AN EMPIRE, ROME BEGAN EXPANDING AFTER 400 BC AND EVENTUALLY CONTROLLED THE ENTIRE MEDITERRANEAN COASTLINE, EUROPE WEST OF THE RHINE AND SOUTH OF THE DANUBE, EGYPT, PALESTINE, SYRIA, ASIA MINOR, AND MODERN ENGLAND.

     THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN THE WEST CEASED TO EXIST IN 476 AD, ALTHOUGH IT WAS GONE FOR A PRACTICAL PURPOSES MANY DECADES EARLIER.  THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE COLLAPSE WAS INVASION ACROSS THE RHINE AND DANUBE RIVERS BY GERMANIC SETTLERS.  MANY UNDERLYING CAUSES FOR THE COLLAPSE HAVE BEEN SUGGESTED.  THE ADOPTION OF CHRISTIANITY AND PREOCCUPATION WITH THE AFTERLIFE INSTEAD OF PRACTICAL MATTERS ON EARTH WAS ONE.  THE INCREASING INABILITY TO ADMINISTER THE LARGE EMPIRE WAS ANOTHER.  TAXES WERE REQUIRED AFTER THE SECOND CENTURY TO SUPPORT THE LARGE ARMY AND THIS CAUSED UNREST AND REVOLT IN THE PROVINCES.  THE SLAVE ECONOMY WENT INTO A DECLINE BECAUSE SLAVES BECAME SPARSE WHEN CONQUESTS CEASED AFTER THE SECOND CENTURY.  THE EMPIRE FAILED TO INDUSTRIALIZE BECAUSE OF ITS DEPENDENCE ON SLAVERY.  PLAGUE TOOK A HEAVY TOLL ON THE POPULATION AND TRADE DECLINED THEREAFTER.  THE ARMY DECLINED IN QUALITY BECAUSE MERCENARIES HAD TO REPLACE CITIZENS THAT AVOIDED SERVICE AS SOLDIERS AND OFFICERS.  REPEATED TURMOIL AND CIVIL WAR OVER SUCCESSION TO THE THRONE SAPPED THE STRENGTH OF THE LEGIONS AND BROUGHT BARBARIAN CONTINGENTS INTO THE ARMY.

     THE LEGACY OF THE ROMANS WAS BROAD AND FAR-REACHING.  IT INCLUDES THE TRANSMISSION OF MUCH ANCIENT CULTURE TO THE MODERN AGE, ESPECIALLY GREEK ART AND LITERATURE.  THE ROMANS FOUNDED PARIS, LONDON , LYONS, BORDEAUX, COLOGNE, TOLEDO, AND MILAN.   MODERN RAILWAY GAUGES TRACE BACK TO WAGON RUTS IN ROMAN MINES.  THE ROMANS EXCELLED AT ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION, AND FIRST USED THE ARCH, THE DOME, AND CONCRETE.  A FEW OF THEIR FAMOUS ROADS, BRIDGES, AND AQUEDUCTS ARE STILL IN USE.  THE LATIN LANGUAGE INFLUENCED THE LATER DEVELOPMENT OF THE FRENCH, SPANISH, ITALIAN, PORTUGUESE, AND ROMANIAN LANGUAGES.  ROMAN LAW WAS CODIFIED AND UPDATED BY THE BYZANTINES AND IS THE BASIS OF LAW FOR MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TODAY.