Rome controlled the whole of the Italic Peninsula around 270 BC. This opened possibilities for expansion to the south, which generated a conflict with Carthage, an eminent Mediterranean power in the north of Africa. In 264 BC, the fight for hegemony in the western Mediterranean began. Rome and Carthage fought three wars over the next decades, until in 146 BC Rome at last defeated Carthage. It was razed to the ground and in its former dominion the Roman province of Africa was established.
This Roman silver coin was issued towards the end of the second of the so-called Punic Wars. Interestingly, the horse's head on the reverse was modeled after a common motif on Carthaginian coins. The obverse depicts Mars, the Roman god of war.