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Roman writings about the Punic Wars describe the core of the military, including its commanders and officers, as being made up of “Liby-Phoenicians”, a broad label that included ethnic Phoenicians, those of mixed Punic-North African descent, and Libyans who had integrated into Phoenician culture. He and Herodotus portray the Carthaginian government as more meritocratic than some Hellenistic counterparts, with “great men” like Hamilcar being elected to “royal office” based on “outstanding achievements” and “special merit”. Another means of control first used under the Commonwealth was afforded by the various acts of parliament, which subjected all holders of municipal office to the test of an oath. Throughout the major settlements of Roman Sardinia, inscriptions mention sufetes, perhaps indicating that Punic descendants used the office or its name to resist both cultural and political assimilation with their Latin conquerors. In those cases, a third, non-annual position of tribal or communal chieftain marked an inflection point in the assimilation of external African groups into the Roman political fold. As late as the mid-second century AD, two sufetes wielded power in Bithia, a Sardinian city in the Roman province of Sardinia and Corsica.

Greek writers claimed that ancestry, as well as wealth and merit, were avenues to citizenship and political power. Pizza and pastas represent top choices among locals, but tourists may just as well try those world renowned Italian dishes. This may have been due to the influence and populism of the Barcid faction, which, from the end of the First Punic War until the conclusion of the Second Punic War, dominated Carthage’s government and military. Aspects of Carthage’s political system persisted well into the Roman period, albeit to varying degrees and often in Romanized form. Official state terminology of the late Roman Republic and subsequent Empire re-purposed the word sufet to refer to Roman-style local magistrates serving in Africa Proconsularis, which included Carthage and its core territories. The term sufet was used for officials throughout Carthaginian colonies and territories; inscriptions from Punic era Sardinia are dated with four names: the sufetes of the island as well as those of Carthage. This indicates that the Carthaginians had a capacity to adapt their military as circumstances required; when larger or more specialized forces were needed, such as during the Punic Wars, they would employ mercenaries or auxiliaries accordingly. Greek polymath and head of the Library of Alexandria, praises the Carthaginians as among the few barbarians to be refined and “admirably” governed.

Sufetes are attested to have governed over forty post-Carthaginian towns and cities, including Althiburos, Calama, Capsa, Cirta, Gadiaufala, Gales, Limisa, Mactar, and Thugga. Three sufetes serving simultaneously appear in first-century AD records at Althiburos, Mactar, and Thugga, reflecting a choice to adopt Punic nomenclature for Romanized institutions without the actual, traditionally balanced magistracy. Carthage employed Iberian troops long before the Punic Wars; Herodotus and Alcibiades both describe the fighting capabilities of the Iberians among the western Mediterranean mercenaries. Most conflicts from Carthage lasted from 600 BC to 500 BC with Greece and its trade routes. The people of Carthage spoke Punic, which had its own alphabet and would later continue through trade routes and grow into Africa. Traders of Carthage were secretive in ways to keep trade routes from the Greeks. Greek accounts describe a “Sacred Band of Carthage” that fought in Sicily in the mid-fourth century BC, using the Hellenistic term for professional citizen-soldiers selected on the basis of merit and ability. These troops were supported by mercenaries from different ethnic groups and geographic locations across the Mediterranean, who fought in their own national units. Modern historians regard this as an oversimplification, as many foreign troops were actually auxiliaries from allied or client states, provided through formal agreements, tributary obligations, or military pacts.

During the Second Punic War, Hannibal promised his foreign troops Carthaginian citizenship as a reward for victory. Carthaginian citizens would be enlisted in large numbers only by necessity, such as for the pivotal Battle of Zama in the Second Punic War, or in the final siege of the city in the Third Punic War. Starting in the late second or early first century BC, after the destruction of Carthage, “autonomous” coinage with Punic inscriptions was minted in Leptis Magna. However, after this force was destroyed by Agathocles in 310 BC, foreign mercenaries and auxiliaries formed a more significant part of the army. The core of the Carthaginian army was always from its own territory in Northwest Africa, namely ethnic Libyans, Numidians, and “Liby-Phoenicians”, a broad label that included ethnic Phoenicians, those of mixed Punic-North African descent, and Libyans who had integrated into Phoenician culture. Carthage was also highly influenced by Egyptian culture.