A few years ago, I spent a week in Tunisia on a spa holiday. The hotel I stayed in was wonderful and also offered a choice of half-day trips. I decided that a guided tour of the ancient town of Carthage would be perfect, as I have always loved history. I was not disappointed.
The ruins of Carthage are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and they have been well protected and maintained as a result. The remains of not only of the houses, but also of the forum, theatre, bath and temples could still clearly be seen. I was especially moved by the Tophet burial grounds, which contains urns holding the cremated remains of thousand of babies. There is an on-going debate about whether or not the Carthaginians practiced child sacrifice, with new research tending to prove that this was not the case.
Founded in the 9th century B.C. by Queen Dido, who had fled Phoenicia due to power struggles with her brother Pygmalion, Carthage first developed its strength through the ship building skills of its inhabitants. The city fought several wars against the Greeks and the Romans over the centuries to retain and extend its control over sought-after territories. Carthage had the status of a very important harbour city until it was taken by the Arabs in 637 and destroyed, never to regain the same splendour.