It is fair to say that ‘any excuse for a party’ has more to do with San Antonio’s annual Romans vs Carthaginians battle on the beach than any basis in historical accuracy. But do not think for one moment that San Antonio’s ‘eternal war’ is not taken very seriously by the combatants.

Given the fiercely competitive nature of the battle, it is probably for the best that the weapon of choice is old rotten tomatoes, which are hurled at the opposing army from the protection of largely inadequate defensive installations.

Below are details of what happens on the day and where to go to watch the events unfold. But first a little historical background – well you didn’t think it was going to be all about rotten tomatoes, did you?

Ibiza’s History During the Rule of the Carthaginians and later the Romans

In 654 BC, Phoenician settlers founded a port on Ibiza. With the decline of Phoenicia after the Assyrian invasions, Ibiza came under the control of Carthage, also a former Phoenician colony. The island produced dye, salt, fish sauce (garum), and wool.

A shrine with offerings to the goddess Tanit was established in the cave at Es Cuieram, and the rest of the Balearic Islands entered Eivissa’s commercial orbit after 400 BC.

Major Trading Post

By now Ibiza was a major trading post along the Mediterranean routes, and the island began establishing its own trading stations along the nearby island of Majorca. These included the settlement at Na Guardis, where numerous Balearic mercenaries signed up as slingers to fight for Carthage.

During the Second Punic War, the island was assaulted by the two Scipio brothers in 209 BC but remained loyal to Carthage. With the Carthaginian military failing on the Iberian mainland, Ibiza was last used by the fleeing Carthaginian General Mago to gather supplies and men before sailing to Minorca and then to Liguria.

Romans

Ibiza negotiated a favourable treaty with the Romans, which spared Ibiza from further destruction and allowed it to continue its Carthaginian-Punic institutions well into the Empire days, when it became an official Roman municipality.

For this reason, Ibiza today contains excellent examples of late Carthaginian-Punic civilisation. During the Roman Empire, the island became a quiet imperial outpost, removed from the important trading routes of the time.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and a brief period of first Vandal and then Byzantine rule, the island was conquered by the Moors in 990, the few remaining locals converted to Islam and Berber settlers came in. Under Islamic rule, Ibiza came in close contact with the city of Dénia—the closest port in the nearby Iberian Peninsula, located in the Valencian Community—and the two areas were administered jointly by the Taifa of Dénia.

Programme

Friday 6th
  • 6pm – Kids water party with frolics and fun from showsibiza.com (they can’t compete in the actual event so here is their own special one). Come dressed as a Roman or Carthaginian and receive a gift. Don’t forget your water pistols!
  • 8pm – Snacks for the mini warriors
  • 9pm – Inauguration of the Fiesta followed by ‘Art in Movement’ Dance Show from students of Estudio 64, live music from El Sótano del Doctor and DJ Jordi Sunyer.
Saturday 7th
  • 6pm – The meeting of the factions – The Cartagineses at the town hall and the Romanos in the Edificio El Ruedo car park.
  • 6.30pm – The exit of the troops to ‘the battlefield’ – Arenal Beach
  • 7.30pm – The factions take their positions in the forthcoming battle (it will get messy)
  • 8pm – The battle commences – this is the part of throwing tomatoes and having tomatoes thrown at you. Children are not permitted to join in for safety reasons (trust us, it’s safer this way)
  • 9pm – A toast of brotherhood and the unity that binds us
  • The battle may be over, but the party is just starting …
  • 10pm – Live Music with The Morning Drivers followed by a concert from Joven Dolores, an Ibicencan band playing indie rock
  • 2am – End of the fiesta and fireworks

Photo credit – Vicent Mari.