Utica is an ancient city northwest of Carthage near the outflow of the Medjerda River into the Mediterranean Sea, traditionally considered to be the first colony founded by the Phoenicians in North Africa. Today, Utica no longer exists, and its remains are located not on the coast where it once lay, but further inland because the Medjerda River caused the silting over of its original port.
Utica was founded as a port located on the trade route leading to the Straits of Gibraltar and the Atlantic, thus facilitating Phoenician trade in the Mediterranean. The actual founding date of Utica is controversial. Several classical authors date its foundation around 1100 BC. The archaeological evidence, however, suggests a foundation no earlier than the eighth century BC. Although Carthage was later founded about 40 km. from Utica, records suggest “that until 540 BC Utica was still maintaining political and economic autonomy in relation to its powerful Carthaginian neighbor”. By the fourth century BC, Utica came under Punic control but continued to exist as a privileged ally of Carthage.