Episode 26 – Hamilcar Barca and the End of Carthaginian Sicily

First Punic War Sicily - Post Battle of Drepana
From 247 BC to 241 BC, Hamilcar Barca fought a guerilla campaign against the Romans besieging Lilybaeum and Drepana. Starting at Mount Heircte near Panormus and then moving to Mount Eryx, Hamilcar proved himself an energetic and able commander, and his achievements are all the more impressive considering the limited support he received from the capital.
Bronze Carthaginian naval ram recovered from the water surrounding the Aegates Islands. This ram contains a Punic supplication to Ba’al-Hammon requesting protection. It also has damage along its front, attributable to collisions with Roman rams when the war ships collided prow to prow. Original photo by Wikipedia user Sb2s3.
A bronze Montefortino helmet without the cheek pieces. The Montefortino style helmet was a common helmet type worn by the Romans and possibly the Carthaginians during the First Punic War. Twelve were found off the coast of the Aegates Islands near where the final battle of the war was fought. Several rams were also recovered. For more information on the wreckage recovered, check out this article. Original photo by Wikipedia user MatthiasKabel.

With both Rome and Carthage exhausted by the constant strain of war, the Carthaginians dispatched the young Hamilcar Barca to take over a much-depleted command in Sicily. While Hanno the Great insisted on demobilizing the Carthaginian war fleet to save money and open up new fronts against the Numidians in the African interior, Hamilcar led his meager army deep into enemy territory to conduct a guerrilla campaign against the Romans. Hamilcar would face a succession of Roman commanders, all of whom failed to dislodge him from the mountain strongholds he held in western Sicily. However, the war would be decided without him. The Romans managed to muster a final fleet thanks to private donations from her patriotic citizens, and in 241 BC, this new navy under the Consul Lutatius smashed a hastily raised Carthaginian fleet. Cut off from his homeland, Hamilcar was forced to enter into negotiations for peace. Carthage received stern terms which included an enormous war indemnity of 3,200 talents. With the ratification of the treaty, Hamilcar Barca and the last of the Carthaginian troops descended from the mountains and sailed home. Carthaginian Sicily was no more.

Download: Episode 26 – Hamilcar Barca and the End of Carthaginian Sicily

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