Carthage was the center or capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now the Tunis Governorate in Tunisia. The city developed from a Phoenician colony into the capital of a Punic empire dominating the Mediterranean during the first millennium BC; the legendary Queen Dido is regarded as the founder of the city, though her historicity has been questioned. According to accounts by Timaeus of Tauromenium, she purchased from a local tribe the amount of land that could be covered by an oxhide. Cutting the skin into strips, she laid out her claim and founded an empire that would become, through the Punic Wars, the only existential threat to Rome until the coming of the Vandals several centuries later; the ancient city was destroyed by the Roman Republic in the Third Punic War in 146 BC and re-developed as Roman Carthage, which became the major city of the Roman Empire in the province of Africa. The city was sacked and destroyed in the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb in 698.
The site remained uninhabited, the regional power shifting to the Medina of Tunis in the medieval period, until the early 20th century, when it began to develop into a coastal suburb of Tunis, incorporated as Carthage municipality in 1919. The archaeological site was first surveyed by Danish consul Christian Tuxen Falbe. Excavations were performed in the second half of the 19th century by Charles Ernest Beulé and by Alfred Louis Delattre; the Carthage National Museum was founded in 1875 by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie. Excavations performed by French archaeologists in the 1920s first attracted an extraordinary amount of attention because of the evidence they produced for child sacrifice. There has been considerable disagreement among scholars concerning whether or not child sacrifice was practiced by ancient Carthage; the open-air Carthage Paleo-Christian Museum has exhibits excavated under the auspices of UNESCO from 1975 to 1984. The name Carthage /ˈkarθɪdʒ/ is the Early Modern anglicisation of French Carthage /kaʁ.taʒ/, from Latin Carthāgō and Karthāgō from the Punic qrt-ḥdšt "new city", implying it was a "new Tyre".
The Latin adjective pūnicus, meaning "Phoenician", is reflected in English in some borrowings from Latin—notably the Punic Wars and the Punic language. The Modern Standard Arabic form قرطاج is an adoption of French Carthage, replacing an older local toponym reported as Cartagenna that directly continued the Latin name. Carthage was built on a promontory with sea inlets to the south; the city's location made it master of the Mediterranean's maritime trade. All ships crossing the sea had to pass between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia, where Carthage was built, affording it great power and influence. Two large, artificial harbors were built within the city, one for harboring the city's massive navy of 220 warships and the other for mercantile trade. A walled tower overlooked both harbors; the city had 37 km in length, longer than the walls of comparable cities. Most of the walls were located on the shore, thus could be less impressive, as Carthaginian control of the sea made attack from that direction difficult.
The 4.0 to 4.8 km of wall on the isthmus to the west were massive and were never penetrated. The city had a huge necropolis or burial ground, religious area, market places, council house, a theater, was divided into four sized residential areas with the same layout. In the middle of the city stood a high citadel called the Byrsa. Carthage was one of the largest cities of the Hellenistic period and was among the largest cities in preindustrial history. Whereas by AD 14, Rome had at least 750,000 inhabitants and in the following century may have reached 1 million, the cities of Alexandria and Antioch numbered only a few hundred thousand or less. According to the not always reliable history of Herodian, Carthage rivaled Alexandria for second place in the Roman empire. On top of Byrsa hill, the location of the Roman Forum, a residential area from the last century of existence of the Punic city was excavated by the French archaeologist Serge Lancel; the neighborhood, with its houses and private spaces, is significant for what it reveals about daily life there over 2100 years ago.
The remains have been preserved under embankments, the substructures of the Roman forum, whose foundation piles dot the district. The housing blocks are separated by a grid of straight streets about 6 m wide, with a roadway consisting of clay. Construction of this type presupposes organization and political will, has inspired the name of the neighborhood, "Hannibal district", referring to the legendary Punic general or sufet at the beginning of the second century BCE; the habitat is typical stereotypical. The street was used as a storefront/shopfront. In some places, the ground is covered with mosaics called punica pavement, sometimes using a characteristic red mortar; the merchant harbor at Carthage was developed, after settlement of the nearby Punic town of Utica. The surrounding countryside was brought into the orbit of the Punic urban centers, first commercially politically. Direct management over cultivation of neighbouring lands by Punic owners followed. A 28-volume work on agriculture written in Punic by Mago, a retired army general, was trans
A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was limited. However, in order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers: a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority. Dictators were appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a modified form, first by Sulla, by Julius Caesar; the office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, not revived under the Empire. With the abolition of the Roman monarchy in 509 BC, the imperium, or executive power, of the king was divided between two annually-elected magistrates, known as praetors.
In time they would come to be known as consuls, although not until the creation of a third, junior praetor in 367 BC. Neither consul was superior to the other, the decisions of one could be appealed to the other, their insignia were the toga praetexta and the sella curulis, each was attended by an escort of twelve lictors, each of whom bore the fasces, a bundle of rods topped by an axe. After several years, the fear of impending war with both the Sabines and the Latin League, combined with widespread suspicion that one or both of the consuls favoured the restoration of the monarchy, led to the call for a praetor maximus, or dictator, akin to the supreme magistrate of other Latin towns. According to most authorities, the first dictator was Titus Lartius in 501 BC, who appointed Spurius Cassius his magister equitum. Although there are indications that the term praetor maximus may have been used in the earliest period, the official title of the dictator throughout the history of the Republic was magister populi, or "master of the infantry".
His lieutenant, the magister equitum, was the "master of the horse". However, the use of dictator to refer to the magister populi seems to have been widespread from a early period; the appointment of a dictator involved three steps: first, the Senate would issue a decree known as a senatus consultum, authorizing one of the consuls to nominate a dictator. Technically, a senatus consultum was advisory, did not have the force of law, but in practice it was nearly always followed. Either consul could nominate a dictator. If both consuls were available, the dictator was chosen by agreement; the Comitia Curiata would be called upon to confer imperium on the dictator through the passage of a law known as a lex curiata de imperio. A dictator could be nominated for causa; the three most common were rei gerundae causa, "for the matter to be done", used in the case of dictators appointed to hold a military command against a specific enemy. Other reasons included seditionis sedandae causa; these reasons could be combined, but are not always recorded or stated in ancient authorities, must instead be inferred.
In the earlier period it was customary to nominate someone whom the consul considered the best available military commander. However, from 360 BC onward, the dictators were consulares. There was only one dictator at a time, although a new dictator could be appointed following the resignation of another. A dictator could be compelled to resign his office without accomplishing his task or serving out his term if there were found to be a fault in the auspices under which he had been nominated. Like other curule magistrates, the dictator was entitled to the toga praetexta and the sella curulis, he received a ceremonial bodyguard, unique in Roman tradition: "wenty-four lictors indicated his quasi-regal power, however, was rather a concentration of the consular authority than a limited revival of the kingship."In a notable exception to the Roman reluctance to reconstitute the symbols of the kings, the lictors of the dictator never removed the axes from their fasces within the pomerium. Symbolizing their power over life and death, the axes of a dictator's lictors set him apart from all other magistrates.
In an extraordinary sign of deference, the lictors of other magistrates could not bear fasces at all when appearing before the dictator. As the kings had been accustomed to appear on horseback, this right was forbidden to the dictator, unless he first received permission from the
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans. "Roman mythology" may refer to the modern study of these representations, to the subject matter as represented in the literature and art of other cultures in any period. The Romans treated their traditional narratives as historical when these have miraculous or supernatural elements; the stories are concerned with politics and morality, how an individual's personal integrity relates to his or her responsibility to the community or Roman state. Heroism was an important theme; when the stories illuminate Roman religious practices, they are more concerned with ritual and institutions than with theology or cosmogony. The study of Roman religion and myth is complicated by the early influence of Greek religion on the Italian peninsula during Rome's protohistory, by the artistic imitation of Greek literary models by Roman authors.
In matters of theology, the Romans were curiously eager to identify their own gods with those of the Greeks, to reinterpret stories about Greek deities under the names of their Roman counterparts. Rome's early myths and legends have a dynamic relationship with Etruscan religion, less documented than that of the Greeks. While Roman mythology may lack a body of divine narratives as extensive as that found in Greek literature and Remus suckling the she-wolf is as famous as any image from Greek mythology except for the Trojan Horse; because Latin literature was more known in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, the interpretations of Greek myths by the Romans had a greater influence on narrative and pictorial representations of "classical mythology" than Greek sources. In particular, the versions of Greek myths in Ovid's Metamorphoses, written during the reign of Augustus, came to be regarded as canonical; because ritual played the central role in Roman religion that myth did for the Greeks, it is sometimes doubted that the Romans had much of a native mythology.
This perception is a product of Romanticism and the classical scholarship of the 19th century, which valued Greek civilization as more "authentically creative." From the Renaissance to the 18th century, Roman myths were an inspiration for European painting. The Roman tradition is rich in historical myths, or legends, concerning the foundation and rise of the city; these narratives focus on human actors, with only occasional intervention from deities but a pervasive sense of divinely ordered destiny. In Rome's earliest period and myth have a mutual and complementary relationship; as T. P. Wiseman notes: The Roman stories still matter, as they mattered to Dante in 1300 and Shakespeare in 1600 and the founding fathers of the United States in 1776. What does it take to be a free citizen? Can a superpower still be a republic? How does well-meaning authority turn into murderous tyranny? Major sources for Roman myth include the Aeneid of Vergil and the first few books of Livy's history as well as Dionysius' s Roman Antiquities.
Other important sources are the Fasti of Ovid, a six-book poem structured by the Roman religious calendar, the fourth book of elegies by Propertius. Scenes from Roman myth appear in Roman wall painting and sculpture reliefs; the Aeneid and Livy's early history are the best extant sources for Rome's founding myths. Material from Greek heroic legend was grafted onto this native stock at an early date; the Trojan prince Aeneas was cast as husband of Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, patronymical ancestor of the Latini, therefore through a convoluted revisionist genealogy as forebear of Romulus and Remus. By extension, the Trojans were adopted as the mythical ancestors of the Roman people; the characteristic myths of Rome are political or moral, that is, they deal with the development of Roman government in accordance with divine law, as expressed by Roman religion, with demonstrations of the individual's adherence to moral expectations or failures to do so. Rape of the Sabine women, explaining the importance of the Sabines in the formation of Roman culture, the growth of Rome through conflict and alliance.
Numa Pompilius, the Sabine second king of Rome who consorted with the nymph Egeria and established many of Rome's legal and religious institutions. Servius Tullius, the sixth king of Rome, whose mysterious origins were mythologized and, said to have been the lover of the goddess Fortuna; the Tarpeian Rock, why it was used for the execution of traitors. Lucretia, whose self-sacrifice prompted the overthrow of the early Roman monarchy and led to the establishment of the Republic. Cloelia, A Roman woman taken hostage by Lars Porsena, she escaped the Clusian camp with a group of Roman virgins. Horatius at the bridge, on the importance of individual valor. Mucius Scaevola, who thrust his right hand into the fire to prove his loyalty to Rome. Caeculus and the founding of Praeneste. Manlius and the geese, about divine intervention at the Gallic siege of Rome. Stories pertaining to the Nonae Caprotinae and Poplifugia festivals. Coriolanus, a story of politics and morality; the Etruscan city of Corythus as the "cradle" of Trojan and Italian civilization.
The arrival of the Great Mother in Rome. Narratives of divine activity played a more important role in the system of Greek religious belief than among the Romans, for whom ritual and cult were primary. Although Roman religion did not have a basis in scriptures and exegesis, priestly literature was one of the earliest written forms of Latin prose; the books and commentaries of the College of Pontiffs and
The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world. Roman society under the Republic was a cultural mix of Latin and Greek elements, visible in the Roman Pantheon, its political organisation was influenced by the Greek city states of Magna Graecia, with collective and annual magistracies, overseen by a senate. The top magistrates were the two consuls, who had an extensive range of executive, judicial and religious powers. Whilst there were elections each year, the Republic was not a democracy, but an oligarchy, as a small number of large families monopolised the main magistracies. Roman institutions underwent considerable changes throughout the Republic to adapt to the difficulties it faced, such as the creation of promagistracies to rule its conquered provinces, or the composition of the senate.
Unlike the Pax Romana of the Roman Empire, the Republic was in a state of quasi-perpetual war throughout its existence. Its first enemies were its Latin and Etruscan neighbours as well as the Gauls, who sacked the city in 387 BC; the Republic nonetheless demonstrated extreme resilience and always managed to overcome its losses, however catastrophic. After the Gallic Sack, Rome indeed conquered the whole Italian peninsula in a century, which turned the Republic into a major power in the Mediterranean; the Republic's greatest enemy was doubtless Carthage, against. The Punic general Hannibal famously invaded Italy by crossing the Alps and inflicted on Rome two devastating defeats at the Lake Trasimene and Cannae, but the Republic once again recovered and won the war thanks to Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. With Carthage defeated, Rome became the dominant power of the ancient Mediterranean world, it embarked in a long series of difficult conquests, after having notably defeated Philip V and Perseus of Macedon, Antiochus III of the Seleucid Empire, the Lusitanian Viriathis, the Numidian Jugurtha, the great Pontic king Mithridates VI, the Gaul Vercingetorix, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
At home, the Republic experienced a long streak of social and political crises, which ended in several violent civil wars. At first, the Conflict of the Orders opposed the patricians, the closed oligarchic elite, to the far more numerous plebs, who achieved political equality in several steps during the 4th century BC; the vast conquests of the Republic disrupted its society, as the immense influx of slaves they brought enriched the aristocracy, but ruined the peasantry and urban workers. In order to solve this issue, several social reformers, known as the Populares, tried to pass agrarian laws, but the Gracchi brothers, Saturninus, or Clodius Pulcher were all murdered by their opponents, the Optimates, keepers of the traditional aristocratic order. Mass slavery caused three Servile Wars. In this context, the last decades of the Republic were marked by the rise of great generals, who exploited their military conquests and the factional situation in Rome to gain control of the political system.
Marius Sulla dominated in turn the Republic. These multiple tensions lead to a series of civil wars. Despite his victory and appointment as dictator for life, Caesar was murdered in 44 BC. Caesar's heir Octavian and lieutenant Mark Antony defeated Caesar's assassins Brutus and Cassius in 42 BC, but turned against each other; the final defeat of Mark Antony and his ally Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, the Senate's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian as Augustus in 27 BC – which made him the first Roman emperor – thus ended the Republic. Since the foundation of Rome, its rulers had been monarchs, elected for life by the patrician noblemen who made up the Roman Senate; the last Roman king was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. In the traditional histories, Tarquin was expelled in 509 because his son Sextus Tarquinius had raped the noblewoman Lucretia, who afterwards took her own life. Lucretia's father, her husband Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, Tarquin's nephew Lucius Junius Brutus mustered support from the Senate and army, forced Tarquin into exile in Etruria.
The Senate agreed to abolish kingship. Most of the king's former functions were transferred to two consuls, who were elected to office for a term of one year; each consul had the capacity to act as a check on his colleague, if necessary through the same power of veto that the kings had held. If a consul abused his powers in office, he could be prosecuted. Brutus and Collatinus became Republican Rome's first consuls. Despite Collatinus' role in the creation of the Republic, he belonged to the same family as the former king, was forced to abdicate his office and leave Rome, he was replaced as co-consul by Publius Valerius Publicola. Most modern scholarship describes these events as the quasi-mythological detailing of an aristocratic coup within Tarquin's own family, not a popular revolution, they fit a narrative of a personal vengeance against a tyrant leading to his overthrow, common among Greek cities and theorised by Aristotle
Battle of the Lipari Islands
The Battle of the Lipari Islands or Lipara in 260 BC was the first encounter between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic during the First Punic War. A Roman squadron of 17 ships commanded by the senior consul for the year Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio was trapped in Lipara harbour by 20 Carthaginian ships under Boodes; the inexperienced Romans made a poor showing. After some successes with their army in Sicily such as the conquest of Agrigentum, the Romans felt confident enough to build and equip a fleet that would allow them to control the Mediterranean Sea; the Republic ordered and drilled the crews of a fleet of about 150 quinqueremes and triremes in a record two months. The patrician Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio was given the command of fleet, he put to sea with the first 17 ships produced. As the first Roman warships they spent some time training in home waters before sailing to Messana. There they prepared for the main fleet's arrival and supported the logistics of Roman army at the crossing to Sicily.
While Scipio was at the Strait of Messina he received information that the garrison of Lipara was willing to defect to the Roman side. Lipara was the main port of the Lipari Islands and was a constant threat to Roman communications across the Strait. What happened next is described as a treacherous act of the Carthaginians, but the sources do not give much detail and are pro-Roman. Though the crews were still inexperienced and the newly designed and built ships were still undergoing their sea trials, the consul could not resist the temptation of conquering an important city without a fight and sailed to Lipara, it has been suggested by some ancient sources that the offer to surrender Lipara was a ruse inspired by Carthage to encourage the Romans to commit their ships where they could be ambushed. The Romans entered the harbour at Lipara; the Carthaginian fleet was commanded by Hannibal Gisco, the general defeated at the Battle of Agrigentum and was based at Panormus, modern-day Palermo, some 100 kilometres from Lipari.
When he heard of the Romans' advance to Lipara he despatched 20 ships under Boodes, a Carthaginian aristocrat, to the town. The Carthaginians trapped the Romans in the harbour. Boodes led his ships in an attack on the Romans inside the harbour the next morning. Scipio's men offered little resistance; the inexperienced crews were no match for the well drilled Carthaginians and were outfought. Some Romans fled inland and the consul himself was taken prisoner. All of the Roman ships were captured, most with little damage; the battle was little more than a skirmish, is notable as the first naval encounter of the Punic Wars and the first time Roman warships had been engaged in battle. Scipio was released ransomed, his easy defeat earned him the pejorative cognomen Asina. This cognomen was all the more insulting because "asina" was the feminine form of the word donkey, as opposed to the masculine form "asinus". In spite of this Scipio's career prospered and he was consul for a second time in 254. Shortly after the Lipara disaster the junior consul, Gaius Duilius, avenged the humiliation by winning the Battle of Mylae, a major fleet action in which the Carthaginians lost 44 ships.
Goldworthy, Adrian. The Fall of Carthage. London: Phoenix. ISBN 9780304366422. Harris, William Vernon. War and imperialism in Republican Rome, 327-70 B. C. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 9780198148661. Polybius, The General History of Polybius, Book I, 21
Hannibal Barca was a general and statesman from Ancient Carthage, considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His father, Hamilcar Barca, was a leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War, his younger brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal, he was brother-in-law to Hasdrubal the Fair, all commanded Carthaginian armies. Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, triggered by the emergence of the Roman Republic as a great power after it had established its supremacy over Italy. Although Rome had won the First Punic War, revanchism prevailed in Carthage, symbolised by the alleged pledge that Hannibal made to his father to never be a friend of Rome; the Second Punic War broke out in 218 after Hannibal's attack on Saguntum, an ally of Rome in Hispania. He made his famous military exploit of carrying war to Italy by crossing the Alps with his African elephants. In his first few years in Italy, he won a succession of dramatic victories at the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, Cannae.
He distinguished himself for his ability to determine his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, to plan battles accordingly. Hannibal's well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer. Hannibal occupied most of southern Italy for 15 years, but could not win a decisive victory, as the Romans led by Fabius Maximus avoided confrontation with him, instead waging a war of attrition. A counter-invasion of North Africa led by Scipio Africanus forced him to return to Carthage. Scipio had studied Hannibal's tactics and brilliantly devised some of his own, he defeated Rome's nemesis at the Battle of Zama, having driven Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal out of the Iberian Peninsula. After the war, Hannibal ran for the office of sufet, he enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome. During this time, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III the Great in his war against Rome. Antiochus met defeat at the Battle of Magnesia and was forced to accept Rome's terms, Hannibal fled again, making a stop in the Kingdom of Armenia.
His flight ended in the court of Bithynia, where he achieved an outstanding naval victory against a fleet from Pergamon. He was afterwards betrayed to the committed suicide by poisoning himself. Hannibal is regarded as one of the greatest military strategists in history and one of the greatest generals of Mediterranean antiquity, together with Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus. Plutarch states that Scipio asked Hannibal "who the greatest general was", to which Hannibal replied "either Alexander or Pyrrhus himself" Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge called Hannibal the "father of strategy", because Roman armies adopted elements of his military tactics into its own strategic arsenal. Hannibal has been cited by various subsequent military leaders, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, as an inspiration and the greatest strategist of all time; the English form of the name is derived from the Latin. Greek historians rendered the name as Anníbas Bárkas. Hannibal was a common Carthaginian masculine given name.
The name was recorded in Carthaginian sources as ḤNBʿL. It is a combination of the common Carthaginian masculine given name Hanno with the Northwest Semitic Canaanite deity Baal, its precise vocalization remains a matter of debate. Suggested readings include Ḥannobaʿal, Ḥannibaʿl, or Ḥannibaʿal, meaning "Baʿal/The Lord is Gracious", "Baʿal Has Been Gracious", or "The Grace of Baʿal". Barca was the Semitic surname of his aristocratic family, meaning "shining" or "lightning", it is thus the Phoenician equivalent to the Arabic name Barq or the Hebrew name Barak or the ancient Greek epithet Keraunos, given to military commanders in the Hellenistic period. In English, his clan are sometimes collectively known as the Barcids; as with Greek and Roman practice, patronymics were a common part of Carthaginian nomenclature, so that Hannibal would have been known as "Hannibal son of Hamilcar". Hannibal was one of the sons of a Carthaginian leader, he was born in what is present day northern Tunisia, one of many Mediterranean regions colonised by the Canaanites from their homelands in Phoenicia.
He had several sisters and two brothers and Mago. His brothers-in-law were the Numidian king Naravas, he was still a child when his sisters married, his brothers-in-law were close associates during his father's struggles in the Mercenary War and the Punic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. In light of Hamilcar Barca's cognomen, historians refer to Hamilcar's family as the Barcids. However, there is debate as to whether the cognomen Barca was applied to Hamilcar alone or was hereditary within his family. If the latter Hannibal and his brothers bore the name "Barca". After Carthage's defeat in the First Punic War, Hamilcar set out to improve his family's and Carthage's fortunes. With that in mind and supported by Gades, Hamilcar began the subjugation of the tribes of the Iberian Peninsula. Carthage at the time was in such a poor state. According to Polybius, Hannibal much said that when he came upon his father and begged to go with him, Hamilcar agreed and dem
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands referred to as Regione Siciliana. Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula, from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina, its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe, one of the most active in the world 3,329 m high. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate; the earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC. By around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and, for the next 600 years, it was the site of the Sicilian Wars and the Punic Wars. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily was ruled during the Early Middle Ages by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, the Emirate of Sicily; the Norman conquest of southern Italy led to the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily, subsequently ruled by the Hohenstaufen, the Capetian House of Anjou and the House of Habsburg.
It was unified under the House of Bourbon with the Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It became part of Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian unification, a plebiscite. Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region on 15th May 1946, 18 days before the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946. Albeit, much of the autonomy still remains unapplied financial autonomy, because the autonomy-activating laws have been deferred to be approved by the parithetic committee, since 1946. Sicily has a rich and unique culture with regard to the arts, literature and architecture, it is home to important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples and Selinunte. Sicily has a triangular shape, earning it the name Trinacria. To the east, it is separated from the Italian mainland by the Strait of Messina, about 3 km wide in the north, about 16 km wide in the southern part.
The northern and southern coasts are each about 280 km long measured as a straight line, while the eastern coast measures around 180 km. The total area of the island is 25,711 km2, while the Autonomous Region of Sicily has an area of 27,708 km2; the terrain of inland Sicily is hilly and is intensively cultivated wherever possible. Along the northern coast, the mountain ranges of Madonie, 2,000 m, Nebrodi, 1,800 m, Peloritani, 1,300 m, are an extension of the mainland Apennines; the cone of Mount Etna dominates the eastern coast. In the southeast lie the lower Hyblaean Mountains, 1,000 m; the mines of the Enna and Caltanissetta districts were part of a leading sulphur-producing area throughout the 19th century, but have declined since the 1950s. Sicily and its surrounding small islands have some active volcanoes. Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and still casts black ash over the island with its ever-present eruptions, it stands 3,329 metres high, though this varies with summit eruptions.
It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 with a basal circumference of 140 km; this makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. In Greek mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under the mountain by Zeus, the god of the sky. Mount Etna is regarded as a cultural symbol and icon of Sicily; the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the northeast of mainland Sicily form a volcanic complex, include Stromboli. The three volcanoes of Vulcano and Lipari are currently active, although the latter is dormant. Off the southern coast of Sicily, the underwater volcano of Ferdinandea, part of the larger Empedocles volcano, last erupted in 1831, it is located between the island of Pantelleria. The autonomous region includes several neighbouring islands: the Aegadian Islands, the Aeolian Islands and Lampedusa; the island is drained by several rivers, most of which flow through the central area and enter the sea at the south of the island.
The Salso flows through parts of Enna and Caltanissetta before entering the Mediterranean Sea at the port of Licata. To the east, the Alcantara flows through the province of Messina and enters the sea at Giardini Naxos, the Simeto, which flows into the Ionian Sea south of Catania. Other important rivers on the island are the Platani in the southwest. Sicily has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and wet winters and hot, dry summers with changeable intermediate seasons. On the coasts the south-western, the climate is affected by the African currents and summers can be scorching. Sicily is seen as an island of warm winters but above all along the Tyrrhenian coast and in the inland areas, winters can be cold, with typical continental climate. Snow falls in abundance above 900–1000 metres, but stronger cold waves can carry it in the hills and in coastal cities on the northern coast of the island; the interi