‘Carthage’ at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, the Netherlands

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This winter the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden of the Netherlands (the National Museum of Antiquities, in Leiden) will be presenting an exhibition about the archaeological riches and  the  illustrious history of Carthage. This ancient city on the coast of modern-day Tunisia once formed the hub of the Punic and then the Roman trading empire. Over two hundred top archaeological exhibits from renowned international museums will be assembled in Leiden.  and displayed in a Mediterranean setting and the ancient harbour. This exhibition on Carthage is the largest ever to have been on display in The Netherlands. ‘Carthage’ will run from 27 November 2014 to 10 May 2015.

'Carthage' at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, the Netherlands

Highlights of the ‘Carthage’ exhibition  will  feature  colourful mosaics, marble and bronze sculptures, intriguing funerary monuments and stelae, a selection of sophisticated jewellery and glasswork,  and treasures recovered from a shipwreck. Historical and mythical figures such as Queen Dido and the Trojan hero Aeneas, the Carthaginian commander Hannibal, Emperor Augustus and the Church Father Augustine will introduce exhibition visitors to the city’s  fascinating and tumultuous history.

The story of Carthage begins with its foundation by Phoenicians in the ninth century BC and encompasses its glory days as the leading mercantile power in the Mediterranean region, its conflict with Rome, its destruction by the Romans and subsequent rebuilding as a Roman city,  and  ends  in the seventh century AD when the city faded into obscurity.  The exhibition  will also focus on the rediscovery of Carthage’s ruins from the early nineteenth century.

The city of Carthage is one of the most high-profile ports in the ancient world. Situated on the coast of what is now Tunisia,  the city was probably founded in the ninth century BC by Phoenicians from modern Lebanon. Carthage grew into a powerful mercantile empire with extensive trading networks and colonies in the Mediterranean region and Africa. From the fifth century BC the mighty Carthaginian fleet controlled large parts of the Mediterranean Sea and Carthage became a formidable adversary which threatened the rise of Rome.

After three wars with Carthage the Romans finally destroyed the city in  146 BC. More than a century later Emperor Augustus  rebuilt Carthage, which subsequently grew into the third largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome itself and Alexandria. When the Romans converted to Christianity, Carthage also became Christian. In 439 AD Carthage was captured by the Vandals, an East Germanic tribe.  After a period of prosperity under Byzantine rule, the city  gradually lost its significance. Yet Carthage has always  lived on  in the European  imagination as a popular theme  in classical music, art, literature and films. In 1979 the ruins of Carthage received UNESCO World Heritage status.

More information on www.rmo.nl/carthago

Source: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden [December 24, 2014]

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