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Byrsa Hill

According to Virgil’s The Aeneid, the ancient Phoenician city of Carthage was founded by the Tyrian princess Elissa, better known as Dido. After her brother, King Pygmalion, exiled her from her homeland, Dido sailed westward with her loyal vassals. She arrived at the North African coast and encamped on a hill overlooking what would become Carthage. The hill, which came to be known as Byrsa, was the site of a walled citadel that was the center of Carthage’s military power.

As the story goes, after Dido arrived the local Berber chieftain came to her offering as much land as a single oxhide could cover. The clever princess cut the oxhide into tiny strips and placed them on the ground end to end, encircling the entire hill. Apocryphally, this is said to be the origin of  the name Byrsa, which sounds similar to a Greek word meaning “oxhide.”

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About the source: Atlas Obscura

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