Though the Old Testament never clearly mentions the region encompassing Carthage, southern Italy, and several large islands, these lands eventually influenced some of the events of the New Testament and the early church. The Phoenicians (located just north of Israel) founded Carthage as a trading colony on the coast of North Africa around 800 B.C., and over time the highly prosperous colony grew into an empire in its own right. Around the same time, however, Rome was expanding into an empire as well, as were the city states of Greece. All of these major powers fought for control over nearby islands such as Sicily and Sardinia. After losing three wars to Rome, Carthage and its lands were completely absorbed into the Roman Empire by 146 B.C. Later during the time of the New Testament, Paul was shipwrecked nearby on the small island of Malta while being transferred to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. Still later in A.D. 354, the Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo was born not far from Carthage.