The Punic Wars were a series of three conflicts fought between the Mediterranean super powers of the ancient world, Rome and Carthage. From 264-146BC, these two powers fought bitter battles over control of Sicily and the sea trade of the Mediterranean, and in this maelstrom some of history’s greatest generals are found; Hannibal of Carthage and Scipio of Rome. The Punic Wars escalated into a conflict for survival that ended in the final defeat and destruction of Carthage, ultimately establishing Rome as the dominant world power of the day.
The Republican Roman army begins from the end of the Samnite Wars (290 BC) through to the end of the Social War (88 BC), with the main conflict of this time being referred to as the Punic Wars. Fought between Rome and Carthage from 264 BC to 146 BC, they were probably the largest wars that had ever taken place at that time. The expanding Roman Republic, initially via Sicily (which at that time was a cultural melting pot) led to a conflict of interest with Carthage. Rome being the dominant power of the Western Mediterranean was rapidly growing in power throughout Italy, but it lacked the naval power of Carthage. By the end of the third Punic War, after more than a hundred years of fighting, Rome had conquered the empire of Carthage, completely destroyed the city, and became the most powerful state of the Western Mediterranean and arguably the world.
The armies of Carthage were responsible for the city forging the most powerful empire in the western Mediterranean. Although by tradition, a seafaring nation with a powerful navy, Carthage by necessity, had to employ a land army to further their territorial claims and defend against their enemies. Adopting the weapons and tactics of the Hellenistic kingdoms, Carthage similarly employed mercenary armies from their allies and subject city-states. Military successes came in Africa, Sicily, Spain, and Italy, where armies were led by such celebrated commanders as Hamilcar Barca and Hannibal. The military dominance of Carthage was however, eventually challenged by the rise of Rome, and resulting in defeat during the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE), when the days of Carthage as a regional powerhouse came to an end.
Ancient Spain was one of the toughest places to fight in Europe before the Roman Empire. The tribesmen often defeated Punic, Roman, and Gaul armies, taking full advantage of their mobility, ferocity, and effective weaponry. An Iberian army was typically an infantry force with about two thirds close-order warriors carrying extra-heavy javelins, swords that were highly respected in the ancient world, and decent shields. The other third were very mobile light infantry with javelins, possibly with a contingent of slingers too, occasionally the lighter troops predominated. Cavalry were fewer in number and mainly light, but hard-hitting. The army looks imposing on the table, since most of them wore clean white tunics and white sinew caps with horsehair crests, with the heavy foot typically fighting in large wedges. It took the Romans far longer to conquer Iberia than to overrun Gaul.