In time because of the competitive nature of trade within the Mediterranean which
included the Carthaginians, the Greeks and Rome, conflict arose. The First Punic
War was a conflict between Carthage (in Africa) and Rome (in Europe). The source
of the initial conflict was that Carthage had attempted to set up a garrison on
the island of Sicily in the City of Messina. A garrison is a place where troops are
stationed to defend a city or fortress. A war between the two great powers began
in 264 BC and a series of battles commenced. The Battle of Cape Ecnomus was a
naval conflict in 256 BC between the two powers off the coast of Sicily and is one of
the largest naval battles in world history involving about 350 ships on each side and
300,000 soldiers combined.
The sides were almost in equal in terms of the military forces deployed for the battle but the Romans had the upper hand and half of the Carthage’s fleet was sunk. Later in 255 BC Rome attacked Africa directly at the Siege of Aspis and this was the first time the war spilled out into African territory.
After 23 years of conflict Rome had lost 700 ships and 50,000 men but gained more
dominance in the Mediterranean that it had previously. A peace treaty was then
signed between Carthage and Rome.