The Phoenicians & The Carthaginians Civilizations.
Phoenicia was where the coast of Lebanon & Syria are today, at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean . The Phoenicians were brilliant sea-farers, which incidentally the Romans never were, and one story is that they might have sailed around the North Coast of Africa.
Major traders, the Phoenicians shipped their products of cloth, dye and timber, everywhere they could and set up coastal colonies all around the Mediterranean, including Spain, Malta and Sicily. The most important settlement was Carthage, which became Rome's most deadly maritime rival.
Founded by the ninth century BCE, in what is modern day Tunisia on the North Coast of Africa, Carthage's wealth and influence spread North to Sicily & the Italian mainland, providing Rome with its biggest threat of means of expansion.
It took three Punic Wars to wipe out the opposition of Carthage, which was finally destroyed by the Romans in 146BCE, leaving the way open for Rome to take total control of the Mediterranean.
Reference used : Athildas Coel & Guy de la Bedoyere.

By Kordas, based on Alvaro's work - This map, CC BY 3.0, Link

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