Carthage and Sahel Africa

Apr 2010
4,874
Oxford
#2
The fertile regions of the Sahel (around modern towns of Sousse and Sfax and north-west Libya) were added to the Carthaginian dominion in the fifth century. They also set up settlements along the coast of Morocco and Mauritania. As for the Niger Delta, they seemed to have been largely dissuaded to investigate the land further, if one reads the accounts of Hanno the Navigator's journey (probably from the fifth century), where they turned back after reaching the Niger Delta:

http://www.livius.org/person/hanno-1-the-navigator/hanno-1-the-navigator-2/

Herodotus mentions Carthaginian trade with Africans beyond the Pillars of Heracles:

Another story is told by the Carthaginians. There is a place in Libya, they say, where men live beyond the Pillars of Heracles; they come here and unload their cargo; then, having laid it in order along the beach, they go aboard their ships and light a smoking fire. The people of the country see the smoke, and, coming to the sea, they lay down gold to pay for the cargo, and withdraw from the wares.
Then the Carthaginians disembark and examine the gold; if it seems to them a fair price for their cargo, they take it and go away; but if not, they go back aboard and wait, and the people come back and add more gold until the sailors are satisfied.
In this transaction, it is said, neither party defrauds the other: the Carthaginians do not touch the gold until it equals the value of their cargo, nor do the people touch the cargo until the sailors have taken the gold. (4.196)
 
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Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,657
#4
Sahel was widely known and traveled by Carthaginians even before it became a tributary state- apparently Carthage invested alot into water works there and it was a model for the rest of the Mediterranean supporting larger population then until just recently.

Niger is more complicated... there seems to have been some trade goods from that regions but aside from the report already mentioned about how Carthaginians and before them Phoenicians conducted trade we don't know if it was other middlemen like Garamantes or exactly how trade goods moved. Romans launched some expeditions but do not appear to heave reached the Niger but probably reached people who had trade connections to that region.
 
Aug 2014
1,832
Huntington Beach CA
#5
The Carthaginians had another civilized people in the Sahara to pass their caravans through before they reached the Sahel and the Niger. The Garamantes or Garamantia. The Garamantes apparently were an urban people with their major city being Jermo in what is now southern Libya near Murzuq. They were able to practice agriculture, due to a sophisticated system of wells and qanats that served them well up until about 400 AD, when those wells dried up and their civilization came undone. Archaeologists are only beginning to study these peripheral desert civilizations due to interest being previously monopolized by more "culturally relevant" sites for study closer to the Mediterranean and primitive conditions in these desert areas.( The Garamantes were studied by archaelogical investigations carried out by the Khadaffi Regime. And now there is likely a hiatus in study due to unsettled and dangerous conditions in these areas). But agriculture and civilization apparently spread rather quickly into and through deserts in oases where agriculture was possible and where trade routes could develop--as far back, in the case of Africa and Arabia as Pharonic times, apparently. The only real bar to fixed agriculture (requiring ploughing instead of hoeing for horticulture) appears to have been the range of the Tsetse Fly, much farther south, which carried trypanosomes---a lethal parasite for cattle and horses. So yes, the Carthaginians were in contact with Africans of the Sahel and farther south. The gold that Africans mined and that Mediterranean peoples craved as specie ensured that trade would be lucrative. But it was not a direct trade by any means, but through intermediaries such as the Garamantes.