During the 9th century BC, the ancient Phoenicians were searching for ports on their way from their homeland (modern-day Lebanon) to the mines of Southern Spain, conveniently founding the city of Carthage, which now lies north of Tunis—the capital of Tunisia.
In the Phoenician language, Carthage (Qart-ḥadašt) meant ‘the new city’ and referred to a colony of cities along the Gulf of Tunis.
The Phoenicians were not just skillful seafarers and fervent traders, but they were also avid inventors, laying the foundation of Western culture and civilization.
One of Phoenician inventions flashes before our eyes everyday—the alphabet!
They also invented purple dye, from which they derived their name: Phoenician (from the Greek phoinikos) and Punic (in Latin)—both of which mean 'purple', the color in which they dressed.
When the Phoenician homeland (present-day Lebanon) was invaded in 538 BC by Cyrus, the king of Persia (modern-day Iran), waves of Phoenicians sailed to Carthage.
Carthage soon emerged the greatest Phoenician colony and a major maritime power in the Mediterranean, ultimately entering into conflict with the Roman Empire.
Carthage waged 3 wars against Rome and, after the third loss in 146 BC, was completely destroyed by the Romans, who rebuilt Carthage and dominated the region for nearly 4 ½ centuries.
The greatest memories of the ancient Phoenicians in Punic Carthage lie in the cemeteries of children, where thousands of tophets are found.
Afterward a walk around the museum, I went to the once-walled city, which overlooks the remains of the harbor of ancient Carthage. The city was called Byrsa, meaning ‘citadel’ in the Phoenician language.
Upon the hill, I stood on the mounted glory of the ancient Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. There, I even lifted my eyes to see the mountains of Sicily through light haze in the distance!
I then traced my steps down to the ancient arena, the amphitheatre, the cistern, and finally the port—all of which were rebuilt by the Romans after the destruction of Phoenician Carthage.
If you would like to read more about how Phoenician styles have also appeared on the runways today, go to Phoenicians the People of Purple.
As you know, purple and all of its wonderful shades have been a dominant color for the past few seasons.
Just remember, the first men to wear purple were the ancient Phoenicians—the People of Purple!
For more information on the menswear of Carthage, or what I call “Punic fashion,” go to Carthage, of Phoenicians and Punics.
One of the predominant features of Roman menswear was draping, a trend that has been appearing on the runway for several seasons.
For details on how Roman styles rear their head today, read Roman Blockbusters, Byzantium & Barbarians.
See the photo gallery.
Photos Copyright Men’s Fashion by Mark.