The battle of Zama was the final major battle of the Second Punic War, and saw a Roman army under Publius Cornelius Scipio defeat Hannibal in North Africa, forcing Carthage to accept Roman peace terms that effectively doomed her. This entry in the campaign series looks at the entire Roman invasion, the battles that forced Carthage to recall Hannibal from Italy, the two armies, the battle itself and its aftermath.
Surprisingly Zama turns out to be an unusually difficult battle to study, with different sources producing very different accounts of the two armies, the events of the battle and its aftermath. Even the location isn't at all clear. The author does a good job of producing a coherent narrative for the battle, but doesn't hide the difficulties, allowing the reader to make their own judgement. There is also an interesting section on the various possible locations for the battle, attempting to match up the historical descriptions with the geography in the area. The section on the opposing commanders also brings in the two major African allies of Carthage and Rome - Syphax and Masinissa, and the book gives full credit to both for their role in the campaign, and to Masinissa for his role in the eventual Roman victory.
The impression one gets is that Rome was simply more secure in Italy than Carthage was in Africa. Scipio overthrew Carthage after a single campaign and a handful of victories, whereas Hannibal failed to do the same at Rome despite fifteen years of campaigns in Italy and a series of devastating victories. The Roman refusal to consider negotiations also clearly played a role - in contrast Hannibal was willing to agree to Rome's terms and to try and convince his fellow Carthaginians to do the same.
Origins of the Campaign
The Battle of Zama
Author: Mir Bahmanyar