4 pre-colonial African armies that couldn’t be cracked for centuries

Farida Dawkins September 28, 2018

Illustration of the Third Punic War, circa 146 BCE…by Peter V. Bianchi, National Geographic

Carthage Army

Carthage was a North African entity that is revered as the largest state in the ancient Mediterranean that thrived for 500 years, as documented by History.

The Carthage military was considered one of the largest military units in the ancient world. The army received many accolades under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca and his son, Hannibal.

The Navy component of the military was the Carthage’s strongest forte. Nevertheless, the army spread Carthaginian power over to the indigenous people of North Africa to the Southern Iberian Peninsula from 6th Century BC and the 3rd Century BC.

The military was also able to expand into Sardinia and the Balearic Islands which enabled the army to transform into a multi-national force comprised of foreign mercenary units while using citizens to serve in the navy.

Carthaginian army…Realm of History

During the 4th century, the army was estimated to have 24,000 infantry members, 4,000 cavalry and 300 elephants. In addition, extra auxiliaries and mercenaries were employed via treaties with other states and tribes and monetary contracts. Appian, a Greek historian documented that 40,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry and 2,000 heavy chariots were recruited for the battle at Agathocles of Syracuse.

The Carthaginian army included combined arms, light and heavy infantry, siege engines, skirmishers, light and heavy cavalry, and also war elephants and chariots.

After battling the Greeks over Sicily, the army adopted the Phalanx formation used by the Hoplite Greek soldiers.

Carthaginian hoplite Sacred Band at end of 4th Century…Aldo Ferruggia

The Sacred Band was an elite force of the Carthaginian army comprised of the sons of prominent Carthaginian inhabitants.

The military campaigns that the Carthaginian military was part of was the Greek-Punic Wars, the three Sicilian Wars, Pyrrhic War, all three of the Punic Wars, Mercenary War and the Iberian conquest.

In 146 BC, Carthage was defeated by Rome. It, however, solidified its place as a force to be reckoned with.


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