The Punic Wars were a series of conflicts between the Romans and the Carthaginians, fought in 3 separate wars. Prior to the first Punic War, Rome was a little city on the Italian Peninsula, and Carthage was the richest, most powerful city on the Mediterranean, due to their powerful navy and proximity to the sea. They had a treaty with Rome that prevented them from trading in the Western Mediterranean. They could easily uphold this, but Rome started getting angry with Carthage over control of Sicily, an island on which the two powers shared control. Due to a disagreement with Heiro ll and the Mamertines of Messina, they went to war over Sicily in 264 BC. Though the Romans quickly learned how to build ships, they didn't have the experience at sea or a general of the caliber of Hamilcar, a Carthaginian general. Carthage could have overpowered Rome if they had given more supplies to their troops. However, they were content in resting on their laurels, while the Romans tried their absolute best. The Romans won a significant number of victories over Carthage, and in 241 BC they set out to negotiate a treaty. The war was devastating to both countries, but Carthage even more. From 241 to 237 BC the mercenaries who hadn't been paid laid siege to Carthage, which also weakened them. A treaty was signed in 226 BC which divided Spanish territory between Rome and Carthage, and both agreed to it. In 219 BC, Hamilcar's son Hannibal attacked the city of Saguntum, a Roman ally, and the Second Punic War began. Hannibal took a bold risk and took his troops into Northern Italy, and he might have been successful if Carthage had given him the supplies he needed, but they didn't and he couldn't take Rome itself. Roman general Scipio attacked Carthage itself, and crushed Hannibal's forces using carefully planned tactics the Roman general learned from studying Hannibal's. Carthage surrendered. Carthage was allowed to keep its colonies in Africa, but was not allowed to start a war without Rome's approval, and was forced to pay a huge war debt to Rome. Against all odds, Carthage survived and began to prosper, war debt and all. However, the government taxed the people heavily to pay the war debt, and when Hannibal tried to rectify the situation, he was betrayed and killed. Carthage payed off the war debt, but started another war, lost, and had to pay another war debt. Since this broke the agreement, Rome suggested that Carthage be moved inland. They refused to comply, and the Third Punic War began. After attacking the city relentlessly for 3 years, Roman general Scipio Aemilianus sacked it and razed it. Rome became the dominant power in the Mediterranean, and Carthage was destroyed, until it was rebuilt after Julius Caesar's demise. The Punic Wars helped Rome gain the experience and wealth they needed to dominate the Mediterranean.