Carthage was founded shortly after 1000 BC by Phoenician colonists from Syria. In the following centuries the city flourished, and has become the great trade emporia of the western Mediterranean, dominating not only with its merchant ships but with its fighting navy as well.
To secure its position, commercially and militarily, Carthage has set up colonies along the North African coast, in the Balearic Islands and in Spain, and has established control over the cities of western Sicily.
Phoenician and Greek colonies cling to the Spanish coastclick to view Spain and Portugal 500BC
The peoples of Italy, including the Romans, have come under the influence of Greek and Etruscan civilizationclick to view Italy 500BC
A great civilization has emerged in Greece, based on hundreds of small city-statesclick to view Greece and the Balkans 500BC
Bantu farmers from West Africa are beginning to spread out across the continentclick to view Africa 500BC
The great city-state of Carthage has recently been defeated in two long, bitter wars with her arch-rival, Rome. In the second war (218 – 202 BC), her great general, Hannibal, came near to utterly destroying Roman power. He was unable to do so because Rome's allies remained largely loyal to her, and, after years of fruitless campaigning, he returned to Carthage, only to lead the Carthaginians to final defeat at the battle of Zama (202 BC).
As a result of her defeats, Carthage’s overseas dominions have been stripped from her, and have come under Roman control. Nearer home, Berber kingdoms have emerged in North Africa. These have been drawn into the struggles between Carthage and Rome, as allies of one side or the other. The best known of these kingdoms is Numidia, which has become Rome’s main ally in the region.
The cities and tribes of central and southern Italy have come under the firm leadership of Romeclick to view Italy 200BC
Carthaginian and Roman armies have contested much of Spainclick to view Spain and Portugal 200BC
Trade routes across the Sahara desert are being pioneered, while, to the south, Bantu farmers continue their swift expansion across the continentclick to view Africa 200BC
Carthage began to recover her commercial prosperity after defeat in the 2nd Punic War, but this only aroused the fear of the Romans. In 146 BC they destroyed the city once and for all, selling 50,000 of her people into slavery. Other Carthaginian cities such as Utica and Hadrumetum sided with Rome in this struggle and survived under Roman authority. During the first century the Berber kingdom of Numidia was brought under Roman control after prolonged fighting, but remained a client kingdom until the time of Julius Caesar, when it was brought into the Roman province of Africa. At that same time a Roman colony was planted on the site of the old city of Carthage. Beyond the Roman frontier nomadic Berber tribes continue to carry out small-scale raids, whilst the kingdom of Mauritania, emerging in the late 2nd century BC, has become virtually a client state of the Romans.
The free inhabitants of Italy all now enjoy full Roman citizenship, and provide Rome with the bulk of its soldiers and officialsclick to view Italy 30BC
Roman armies have slowly conquered most of Spainclick to view Spain and Portugal 30BC
North Africa is now part of the Roman empire, while in central Africa the Bantu expansion continuesclick to view Africa 30BC
Roman control in North Africa was completed under the emperor Claudius, when the kingdom of Mauritania was annexed. The rest of the region is disturbed now and again by small-scale raids by the nomadic Berber tribes of the desert, but the imperial frontier has been pushed out to the south and the border tribes settled on farmland to form a buffer between the desert and the Romanized zone. This has experienced a general peace for the past two centuries. North Africa has become one of the most prosperous regions within the Roman Empire, with many flourishing cities. Carthage is one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the Roman world. By this date many Roman senators are from North African backgrounds, and the current emperor, Septimius Severus, is himself an African. Much of Rome’s grain comes from the region, which also produces olive oil and fish, as well as wild animals for the circus.
In the 5th century, during the general disintegration of Roman power in the western empire, North Africa was invaded by a German tribe, the Vandals. These have been able to establish a powerful kingdom, and have become a significant naval power, dominating the western Mediterranean. In 455 the Vandals attacked Rome itself. Their control over the rich grainlands of North Africa, and their denial of grain to the inhabitants of Rome, has had an even more marked impact on the decline of the imperial city. Nevertheless, within their own territory, the Vandals have taken to Roman life and culture, and preserve a level of stability which has allowed trade to recover to a certain extent.
Egypt is a province of the Eastern Roman Empireclick to view Egypt 500AD
The western Roman empire has fallen to German invaders, but the eastern Roman empire remains intactclick to view Europe 500AD
In Italy, Roman admininstration and society remains largely intact under the rule of the Ostrogothsclick to view Italy 500AD
Spain and Portugal have experienced much destruction, but the old Roman civilization endures under Visigothic ruleclick to view Spain and Portugal 500AD
A powerful new kingdom is arising in Ethiopia, while in West Africa trade routes across the Sahara are developingclick to view Africa 500AD
click to view West Africa 500AD
The Vandal kingdom in North Africa flourished until 534, when it was overthrown by a small but highly effective Byzantine army under the command of the brilliant general, Belisarius. North Africa then remained under Byzantine rule until Arab armies swept in from Egypt in the late-7th century. The Berber tribes of North Africa were quickly incorporated into the Islamic community, a process assisted by the similarities between Berber and Arab lifestyles and tribal structures. Berbers formed a large part of the army which, almost immediately after their own conquest, went on to conquer Spain.
Medieval Europe is beginning to emerge from the wreckage of the Ancient World.click to view Europe 750AD
Muslim forces from North Africa have conquered most of present-day Spain and Portugal.click to view Spain and Portugal 750AD
In Italy, long wars have caused massive destruction, and the peninsula is now divided between the Lombards and Byzantinesclick to view Italy 750AD
Egypt has become a province of the Islamic Caliphateclick to view Egypt 750AD
Wealthy kingdoms are emerging in West Africaclick to view Africa 750AD
click to view West Africa 750AD
From the mid-8th century, North Africa fell away from effective rule by the Caliphs, now ruling from distant Baghdad, and came under the rule of independent governors. However, these local dynasties were short-lived. The Berbers, perhaps because of their egalitarian tribal structures, were particularly attracted to the more puritanical forms of Islam. In the early years of the 10th century, North Africa was swept by a fervent Islamic movement, that of the Shi'ite Fatimids. The Fatimid leaders united the whole of North Africa under their rule before conquering westward into Egypt and beyond. At this date they have recently relocated their capital from near Tunis to Cairo, in Egypt.
Western Europe experiences internal wars and external attacks which bring widespread insecurity and lead to the rise of feudalism
click to view Europe 979AD
Italy has become fragmented amongst several different statesclick to view Italy 979AD
Muslim Spain is the most prosperous region of Western Europeclick to view Spain and Portugal 979AD
Under the Fatimids, Egypt becomes the leading centre of Islamic civilizationclick to view Egypt 979AD
West African kingdoms flourishclick to view Africa 979AD
click to view West Africa 979AD
Having conquered Egypt, the Fatimids neglected the Maghreb and allowed a regional dynasty called the Zirids to take control. Zirid power soon fragmented into three independent states. The Maghreb was then deeply affected by a migration of Bedouin tribes westwards from Egypt. This caused immense disruption, and undermined urban life and culture in the region.
In the 11th and 12th centuries North Africa fell under the control of two successive Islamic movements, the Almoravids and the Almohads. Both these conquered not only North Africa but also Andalusia. In the past few years, however, the Christian victory at Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) in Spain has forced the Almohads back to the Maghreb.
In Italy, the northern cities, above all Venice, are growing in wealth and power, while in the south Norman adventurers have created one of the most amazing kingdoms of the Middle Agesclick to view Italy 1215AD
The Christian kingdoms advance as Muslim Spain fragments into many small emiratesclick to view Spain and Portugal 1215AD
Egypt is now under the dynasty of the renowned Muslim leader, Saladinclick to view Egypt 1215AD
The expansion of trade in West Africa is leading to the rise of new kingdomsclick to view Africa 1215AD
European feudalism is at its height
click to view Europe 1215AD
click to view West Africa 1215AD
Having been ousted from Spain, Almohad power soon collapsed in North Africa as well as it fell victim to internal strife and became fragmented amongst regional dynasts. In the 1230's independent dynasties became established at Tunis, at Tiemcen and at Fez, in Morocco, and the Maghreb became divided along lines very similar to the present day.
Over the past few centuries, the people of North Africa have become mainly Arab-speaking, thanks to the large-scale immigration of Arab tribes into the region from the 11th century onwards.
New kingdoms are emerging in different parts of Africaclick to view Africa 1453AD
The old feudal order and is beginning to give way to early modern Europe
Egypt is now ruled by a class of slave-soldiers, the Mamluqsclick to view Egypt 1453AD
The Christian kingdoms advance as Muslim Spain fragments into many small emiratesclick to view Spain and Portugal 1453AD
In Italy, the Italian Renaissance is in full swingclick to view Italy 1453AD
click to view West Africa 1453AD
From the early 16th century the coastline of North Africa has become a haven for "corsairs", sea-raiders who range ever further across the seas, capturing Christian ships, enslaving their crews and passengers, and then ransoming them for their freedom. These activities have continued despite (or indeed because of) the Maghreb being incorporated into the Ottoman empire. The region has retained a great deal of autonomy, being ruled by its own deys.
Morocco has experienced a different history. In the late 16th century the ruler of Morocco sent an army across the Sahara desert and conquered the huge Songhai empire of West Africa. For a time, Moroccan power straddled the Sahara. The difficulties of keeping such an empire together have proved too much, and by this date the Moroccan colonies on the Niger are virtually inpendendent states.
Developments such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the expansion of trade and colonization throughout the world, have transformed Europeclick to view Europe 1648AD
Spain is a united country with a vast overseas empireclick to view Spain and Portugal 1648AD
Incessant conflict between the Italian states has led to the Peninsula coming under Spanish dominationclick to view Italy 1648AD
Egypt is now a part of the Ottoman empireclick to view Egypt 1648AD
Large numbers of Africans are being taken to the Americas as slavesclick to view Africa 1648AD
click to view West Africa 1648AD
The Atlantic Slave Trade is at its height, and having a destructive impact on wide areas of the African interiorclick to view Africa 1789AD
The foundations for worldwide scientific and military dominance are being laid in the struggles between European nationsclick to view Europe 1789AD
Italy has become a magnet for European aristocrats visiting it on the "Grand Tour"click to view Italy 1789AD
Spain has become virtually a satellite of France.click to view Spain and Portugal 1789AD
Although officially a part of the Ottoman empire, Egypt is really ruled by the Mamluqsclick to view Egypt 1789AD
The Zulu conquests are causing turmoil over a large part of south and central Africaclick to view Africa 1837AD
Europe continues to be transformed by intellectual change and industrial expansionclick to view Europe 1837AD
The movement for Italian independence and unity is growingclick to view Italy 1837AD
Both Spain and Portugal have lost their overseas empires in South Americaclick to view Spain and Portugal 1837AD
Egypt is now semi-independent from the Ottoman empireclick to view Egypt 1837AD
European explorers have visited the interior of Africaclick to view Africa 1871AD
Nationalism and industrialization continue to transform Europeclick to view Europe 1871AD
After many difficulties Italy has become a united countryclick to view Italy 1871AD
Both Spain and Potugal have experienced political instabilityclick to view Spain and Portugal 1871AD
The Suez Canal has been openedclick to view Egypt 1871AD
European nations now rule much of the world, but their rivalries are now leading them into the First World Warclick to view Europe 1914AD
The European powers have divided almost the whole of Africa up between themclick to view Africa 1914AD
Despite weak government, Italy has an expanding industrial economyclick to view Italy 1914AD
Portugal is now a republicclick to view Spain and Portugal 1914AD
Egypt is now effectively a part of the British empireclick to view Egypt 1914AD
Europe has experienced two devastating world wars, and is now divided between East and Westclick to view Europe 1960AD
The European nations are starting to withdraw from the empires in Africaclick to view Africa 1960AD
After the defeat of Mussolini in World War 2, Italy has become a leading member of the European Communityclick to view Italy 1960AD
Spain and Portugal are ruled by dictatorshipsclick to view Spain and Portugal 1960AD
Egypt is now ruled by President Nasserclick to view Egypt 1960AD
Most of Europe now belongs to the EUclick to view Europe 2005AD
All European powers have withdrawn from their empires in Africaclick to view Africa 2005AD
Despite a series of weak governments Italy has had a thriving economyclick to view Italy 2005AD
Spain and Portugal have become democracies and members of the EUclick to view Spain and Portugal 2005AD
Egypt is now ruled by President Mubarakclick to view Egypt 2005AD
Hover MAP for summary and tap to zoom. MAP < and > buttons change date. TIMELINE icons jump to date. See below for historical summary.