Carthaginian Trade

By Sarah Corbett

The Carthaginians traded their wares in the Mediterranean Sea and further afield, to Britain and Mauritania during the 7th – 3 rd centuries BC. The ritual of Trade was described by Greek Historian Heroditus.

“The Carthaginians unlade their wares, and having disposed them after an orderly fashion along the beach, leave them and returning to their ships,raise a great smoke, come down to the shore, and, laying out to view so much gold as they think the worth of the wares, withdraw to a distance.
The Carthaginians upon this come ashore and look. If they think the gold enough, they take it and go their way; but if it does not seem to them sufficient, they go aboard ship once more and wait patiently. Then the others approach and add to their gold, till the Carthaginians are content “

This great sea trading empire continued until the Romans defeated the Carthaginians.

Great riches were amassed by the Carthaginian  traders by dealing in metals which they purchased in the areas where they naturally occurred and the sale of these same metals in distant diverse markets. This led to the establishment of Colonies to protect those trading ports, which in turn became profitable markets for other goods which the Carthaginians traded and manufactured.

The lists of goods which were among the inventories of the Carthaginian traders included; precious metals, ivory, slaves, wool and animal skins, perfumes and incense, art objects, embroideries and textiles,carpets, purple murex shellfish dye cloth, weapons, scissors and tools, amulets, jewellery, glassware and masks.   In fact the lists were so varied that a Greek comedy play called ‘Poenulus’ describes a comical array of wares on a Carthaginian trading ship to illustrate that Carthaginians would trade in anything which they could source. Profit was the only criteria for their choices.

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