Second Punic War Battles > Battle of Zama

Battle of Zama


The Battle of Zama, fought in 202 BC, marked the decisive confrontation between the forces of Rome, led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, and Carthage, led by Hannibal Barca, during the Second Punic War. Following years of conflict and strategic maneuvering, both Rome and Carthage sought a final showdown to determine the outcome of the Second Punic War. Scipio Africanus, having achieved significant victories in Spain and North Africa, marched his army to confront Hannibal in Carthaginian territory. Hannibal, despite his earlier successes in Italy, faced dwindling resources and political pressure from Carthage to confront the Romans decisively.

Scipio aimed to defeat Hannibal's army decisively, crush Carthaginian resistance, and secure Roman victory in the war. Hannibal sought to repel the Roman invasion, protect Carthage, and negotiate favorable terms for peace. Scipio deployed his forces in a traditional Roman formation, with infantry in the center and cavalry on the flanks. He positioned his Numidian allies, led by Masinissa, opposite the Carthaginian cavalry.

Hannibal deployed his infantry in the center, with his veteran African troops and war elephants forming a formidable line. He placed his cavalry on the wings, including Numidian allies led by Maharbal. The battle began with a fierce cavalry engagement on both wings. Masinissa's Numidians, switching allegiances mid-battle, overwhelmed the Carthaginian cavalry, disrupting Hannibal's flanks.

With the cavalry engagement favoring the Romans, the infantry battle ensued. Despite Hannibal's disciplined veterans and war elephants, Scipio's troops, including Roman legions and allied infantry, held firm. Scipio ordered his cavalry reserves to attack the Carthaginian rear, while the infantry pressed forward. Caught between the Roman infantry and cavalry onslaught, Hannibal's forces began to falter. Unable to withstand the combined assault of the Roman infantry and cavalry, Hannibal's army collapsed, leading to a decisive victory for Rome.


The Battle of Zama marked a definitive Roman victory, effectively ending the Second Punic War and establishing Rome as the dominant power in the western Mediterranean. Following the battle, Carthage sued for peace, leading to the Treaty of Zama, which imposed harsh terms on Carthage but allowed it to retain its independence.

The Battle of Zama cemented Scipio Africanus's reputation as one of Rome's greatest military commanders and ended Hannibal's legendary military career. It marked the culmination of Rome's rise to dominance in the Mediterranean and established Rome as the preeminent power in the ancient world.

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