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Other ‘new cities’ (the answer)

Submitted by on April 5, 2012 – 4:42 pm 2 Comments |  
Several additional toponyms meaning ‘new city’ have been suggested by our readers, including Nieuwstadt (the Netherlands), Nyborg (Denmark), Uusikaupunki (Finland), Naples (originally Neapolis, which means ‘new city’ in Greek).

But the answer I had in mind is both more ancient and more historically significant than those cities: Carthage. It is known in Latin as Carthago or Karthago, in Greek as Καρχηδών or Karkhēdōn, and in Arabic as Qarṭāj. Its Phoenician name was Qart-ḥadašt meaning ‘new city’ which acknowledged its relationship to Tyre, from which many of the original Carthaginians came. (The second part of the name is cognate with the Modern Hebrew ḥadaš ‘new’; Semitic languages typically feature the noun-adjective order, which is also typical of Romance languages).

Curiously, Cartagena in the Spanish region of Murcia was founded around 227 BCE also as Qart Hadasht by the Phoenicians. The city’s heyday was during the Roman Empire, when it was known as Carthago Nova, or the New Carthage (the city’s other name was Carthago Spartaria). Thus, in essence it was called ‘the new, new city’.

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  • Nick Baldo

    There was another punic settlement in modern Tunisia a couple hundred years older than Carthage, Utica, whose name meant “old city.” The creativity is just amazing.

    • Asya Pereltsvaig

      That’s a great point, Nick! Thanks for
      bringing it up. Indeed, the toponym Utica is derived from the Phoenician root
      attiq cognate to the Hebrew ‘attiq,
      as in ha-ir ha-’attiqa ‘the Old City’
      (in Jerusalem). Of course, there’s another Utica still today,
      in upstate New York, not far from Ithaca. Ironically, that one is relatively new, first settled in late 18th century.