Phoenician influence on Greek Religion 900-600 BC:
The Oriental influences seen in the Gods and Goddesses worshipped in Greece
Phoenician Encyclopedia
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The Physical Signs of Phoenician Influence in Greek Religion by A.A.P. Webb.
Pillars and Stones


Cultural Heroes and DemiGods

The House of Kadmos

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St. Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) confirms in "The Stromata" that the origin of the arts and philosophy were from non-Greek cultures such as Phoenician, Carthaginian, Thracian, Egyptian, Etruscan, Persian...etc.

In the first part of this essay I am endeavouring to prove that which, in reading for this subject I found to be taken for granted in many books1 on the history and religion of ancient Greece: that in the 9th to 6th centuries, well documented objects such as votive offerings were not all that was transported to Greece from Phoenicia and other Near Eastern countries. Ideas were transported too.

To argue the case for Phoenician influence on, and traits in, Greek religion, the Greek relationship with these peoples of the Levant must first be established. Furthermore, the following questions need to be addressed: who were the Phoenicians and when and where was contact made? What influenced these people who influenced the Greeks? And what practices of the Greeks merely paralleled those of the Phoenicians, hinting at the possibility of even earlier contact? The last of these questions leads into a grey area as it is often impossible to tell for certain that which merely parallels, from that which is actually affected by foreign influences.

The Phoenicians

The Phoenicians were Semitic peoples who came from the Levant. Their main cities were Sidon, Tyre and Byblos2 In the first millennium, they lived along a 200 km3 stretch of coastline, backing onto the mountains of Lebanon. In the 8th and 7th centuries land constrictions imposed on their homeland by others forced them to venture overseas,4 a necessity which they turned to their advantage, becoming formidable traders dealing in dyes, wood, glass, metalwork and ivory. Their culture was heavily influenced by that of their neighbours, specifically the Assyrians, Hittites and Egyptians. The last of these great empires to fall, Assyria, was their eventual Levantine downfall, with the monarchy of the great naval empire of Tyre5 being the last Phoenicians to flee to the islands. The new Phoenician settlements were often little more than ports or enclaves and are found firstly on the Aegean islands6 and then around the southern shores of the Mediterranean, while some of the last were situated on Sicily7 and in Spain.

There was interaction between the Near East and many of the main islands in the second millennium, the Minoans and Mycenaeans both being strong naval powers. There was a subsequent loss of contact between the Aegean, Cyprus and the Syro-Palestine area because of the collapses caused by the Sea Peoples.8 However, archaeological finds, such as those found on some of the islands, indicate that communication was re-established quite quickly. Some of the first Greek sailors of whom we have knowledge are the Euboeans. This is confirmed by finds of Oriental wares in Euboeans graves of the 10th and 9th centuries, and in grave finds of their immediate neighbours.9 In the early first millennium, Phoenician merchants still dominated the markets in areas where otherwise their influence had declined, but they were forced into a mixture of co-operation and competition as local dynasts began to encourage others to their ports. The two main Near Eastern centres that the Greeks visited were Tell Sukas and Al Mina.10 This latter has a confirmed Greek presence from the second half of the 8th century, and here was a likely place for an early cross-fertilisation of ideas.11 In the 8th century there is also evidence of Phoenicians and Greeks intermixing in the West at the Euboean colony of Pithecusae. Crete was another main area of interaction as North Syrian craftsmen were resident here.12 Itanos was traditionally settled by Phoenicians13 and here is found the shrine of Kommos.14 The mixed population of Crete was known in the Greek world for its legal arbitrators both in the contemporary period and in myth. (Cretan Minos was a mythical son of Zeus and Europa,15 and also one of the judges of the dead.) The Cretans even had an office of rememberancer known as the poinkastos who, in exchange for privileges, was responsible for remembering all the city's laws, both sacral and secular.

To discover who influenced the Phoenicians, we must go back to the second millennium. The Aegean Mycenaeans had a minor influence,16 but the main influences came from the Hittites and Egyptians, both of whom were dominant in the Levant. It was mainly features from the surviving Egyptian empire that crept into Phoenician religion, with some identifications being made between Egyptian and Phoenician gods.17 Egyptian influences can be seen at Beth Shou, Lachish, in Crete at Kition where a Bes plaque was discovered in one of the temples, and also at Kommos, where statuettes were found of Sekhmet and Nefertum. The Egyptian influence eventually gave way to that of Assyria, a rising power in the region from the 8th century. Other Semitic cultures with which the Phoenicians intermixed and married - Jews, Assyrians, Egyptians and Babylonians - all added something to the Phoenician religion. Of these peoples, only the Jews kept a distance,18 retaining their own traditions while probably adding something to the religious practice of the Phoenicians.

Addressing the question of connections between the pantheons of Phoenicia, the Near East and Greece one must look at mythology and written documentation in use at the time. Greek evidence is harder to assess as a written language was only reintroduced during the Orientalising period. The decipherment of Linear B19 does give some clues as to the persona of earlier Greek gods, some of whom are identified in the works of Homer thus showing at least some continuity between Mycenaean and Archaic Greek religion. Cyprus, Crete, the islands, Anatolia and Greece were all accessible, and ideas and religious practices could well have flowed freely between these areas. Early myths may have been introduced, with the gods of one religion becoming the demons and legendary monsters of the other, particularly given the breakdown in contact between the various cultures at the end of the Bronze Age.

The cities of Phoenicia had their own local pantheons as can be seen from decipherment of the Ugaritic text. The gods mentioned, El, Dagon and Anat, seem to disappear in the first millennium, to be replaced by Melqart, Eshmun20 and Reshef, gods with whom the Greeks made identifications. The gods were now paired,21 though in areas where there was contact with Greeks, some shrines still show a triad of deities. The pairing of gods can be seen at Byblos with Baal Shamen and Baalat Gebal, �lady of the beasts," and at Sidon with the pairing of Astarte and Eshmun. Another god, Melqart the son of Astarte-Asteria, is also worshipped at Byblos as well as at his temple in Tyre.


The diffusion of Oriental wares through the ports of northern Syria - especially the port of Poseide�on,23 where Greeks and Near Easterners met - played a major role in bringing about the mix of Hittite and Mesopotamian mythology found in Greek religion. Phoenicians were the dominant traders at this time and this land had once been heavily influenced by them. Their own myths were in turn heavily influenced by their neighbours, although they also carried with them practices which originated in their homeland. The spread of tales to their trading partners and rivals would have been through spoken word, as literacy was not widespread.

The following section looks at the Greek myths - especially those recorded in the work of Hesiod - that parallel those found in the Near East, and in particular the texts found at the old Hittite capital of Hattusas. We will first look at the gods of Hesiod"s Theogony, followed by the aspects of sacred stones, serpents and monsters, and finish with cultural heroes.

Hesiod"s Theogony parallels much of the creation myth of the Near East �Kingship in Heaven"24 as found in the Hittite library of Hattusas. The Kumarbi tale shows up in a Hittite text that predates Hesiod by some 500 years. Hesiod"s Theogony follows the sequence so closely that borrowing almost certainly took place and thus this aspect of Greek myth shows aspects of Babylonian, Hittite, Hurrian and Canaanite mythology. This borrowing must either have occurred in the Bronze Age or some time later and been lifted either directly from the Hittites or through the neo-Hittite states of Syria. The creation myth follows these lines: the first god is sometimes known as Alalu, but does not appear in the Greek tale, Heaven Anu/Uranus is castrated by Kumarbi/Kronos.25 Kumarbi/Kronos rules for a number of years and sires three sons. He swallows his offspring, who include a storm god and a god of waters, but in the case of the storm god he is tricked into swallowing a stone instead. The storm god eventually overthrows Kumarbi who, in the �Song of Ullikumi," attempts to gain revenge.

Pillars and Stones: The worship of stone bears direct comparison with the worship of pillars,26 a distinctively Phoenician practice which nonetheless has some parallels with early Mycenaean tree and pillar cults as well as a relationship with the obelisks of Egypt. Here it becomes virtually impossible to differentiate between true Phoenician practices and those of their neighbours, as is demonstrated by the following myths.

In Greek legend, Kronos swallowed his offspring with the exception of Zeus, for whom a stone was substituted. The infant Zeus was then raised on the island of Crete where his cries were masked by warriors, the Kouretes, clashing their shields.27 Zeus then challenged his father and made him regurgitate his brothers along with the stone that was his substitute. On Crete, the stone itself is worshipped and a sacred stone was likewise worshipped at Delphi.28 The story runs along the same lines as the Kumarbi myths mentioned overleaf, where the storm god overthrows his father, who was also given a stone to swallow in place of his son. The Near Eastern myth does not end here, as the stone takes on a power of its own as a result of having been within the body of a god. In the Song of Ullikummi, Kumarbi"s attempts to overthrow the weather god are assisted by his nurturing of the stone. It grows rapidly on the shoulder of a Titan figure, the god Upelluri, who is identified with the Greek Atlas. Ullikummi, the giant child of earth, makes war on the storm god, daring to approach the very gates of heaven, a feature seen also in the story of Typhon. At this point, it is worth mentioning that to the Greek mind, almost every demon was born of earth and as such represented an old order.29

Serpents: The snake is a recurring emblem in Semitic myth. Gilgamesh himself is robbed of his immortality by one, just as man"s fall from grace is attributed to a serpent in Hebrew myth. This latter has shades of Heracles" search for the apples of Hesperides which, like the fruit in the Garden of Eden, were guarded by a serpent. With the exception of the Hebrew, snakes and serpents are often dual-aspected in Semitic myth,30 having both a beneficial and harmful aspect. Similarly, by watching snakes, one mythical Greek healer learnt how to resurrect the dead. The cult of Asclepius is associated with snakes; his emblem, the Caduceus, was a pair of snakes wound around a staff; and furthermore one of his cult images was a live snake. On Crete, the ancient snake goddess is identified with Aphrodite-Pandemos. In Egypt, Isis uses a snake to gain knowledge from Ra, whose great enemy is the serpent Apep. The Egyptian god of knowledge, Thoth, whom the Greeks identified with Hermes, also carried a Caduceus.

In Greece, the serpent was particularly associated with the worship of earth deities. It was an emblem of the old Chthonic practices, which centred on the cycle of rebirth and resurrection, as represented by the snake shedding its skin. Both Greek and Near Eastern myth often portray serpents as monstrous sons and daughters of the earth; which must be defeated as they rise up and challenge the ruling god. Combat against this creature represented a fight between the old world and the new, although this very aspect also saw it celebrated as a symbol of the New Year. At Delphi, Apollo fought and slew the serpent Pytho in much the same way as the Babylonian god Marduk fought the mother of monsters, the serpent Tiamat. There are further Eastern parallels here, with the combat of Greek Zeus and Typhon,31 and Babylonian Ninurta and Anzu. The Zeus-Typhon myth parallels that of the Ullikumi myth mentioned above, even to the site of the fight, mount Casius. The central myth is of a god fighting against a serpent; either an earth goddess and consort, or son or daughter of the Earth Goddess. The god eventually successfully slays the serpent where others have tried and failed. In some cases the god first suffers defeat by the serpent and then is aided by another, such as his son.32 The death of the monster is often brought about by an arrow, hence one of the identifications with Apollo. Hittite myth also celebrates the slaying of the dragon. Heroes had a tendency to fight serpents and Heracles very first act was to strangle two snakes sent against him by the goddess Hera. He also, with a companion, fought and defeated the Hydra, a seven-headed creature of the earth and child of Typhon and Echidna. A similar creature also appears in Semitic literature dating from the Bronze Age.

Monsters: Some mythological creatures were shared by the Near East and the Greek world, notably Lamia, Lamashtu, the Gorgon and Gello.33 Some of these bogeys were slain by heroes, but others could only be warded off and Eastern charms for this purpose have been found in Greek graves. Lamia is a popular figure of horror, yet there is no undisputed Greek representation of her. She resembles the demoness Lamashtu who steals children from their mother's womb and is a deity whom pregnant women must ward off. In Greek myth, Lamia becomes the daughter of the Phoenician Belos,34 who in Eastern myth was cursed by Ishtar. There is a depiction of her in profile, naked with dangling breasts and a lion's head, almost as a mistress of animals. Here she resembles the Greek Gorgon, Medusa, who is shown en face, but also with dangling breasts. Some of the earliest artist"s impressions of Gorgons come from Cyprus where she is depicted being slain by Perseus, who is hacking off her snake-haired head. Here there are clear parallels with the slaying of Humbaba by Gilgamesh. The last of these monsters, Gello, is mentioned in the works of Sappho; she bears resemblance to the Sumerian-Akkadian evil spirit Gallu.

Cultural Heroes and DemiGods: There are decided similarities between Near Eastern Ninurta and Gilgamesh, and the Greek heroes Achilles, Diomedes, Perseus35 and Heracles. All are cultural heroes involved in great events, whose actions represent the overcoming of major obstacles or foes. In Near Eastern myth, Ninurta undertook 12 labours, the same number as Heracles. Gilgamesh and Achilles both have a goddess for a mother who aids them in time of need, and are also connected with humankind"s inability to attain immortality. Another parallel appears where they both speak with the ghost of their dead best friend, but hereafter the two heroes" paths diverge. Gilgamesh is a warrior-priest, who more closely parallels Heracles than Achilles, being a great hero credited with far more than his actions at the siege of Troy alone. Gilgamesh even rebukes the goddess Ishtar, and this too is captured in the Iliad with Diomedes" wounding of Aphrodite. Heracles, however, has a more direct relationship with the Near East in his identification with the god Melqart, whose centre of worship was Tyre.36 This identification means there was a cult of Heracles going back 2300 years, predating his existence in the Greek world. In their separate myths both gods fought a lion. Further reason for identification occurs during the gods" annual festival just before Spring, around February or March, which involved ritual cremation symbolising the god resurrected phoenix-like through fire, as was Heracles who attained his immortality on his funeral pyre.37 Whenever a new colony was founded, a temple of Melqart was built,38 a practice paralleled in Greece. Heracles is also found in the Roman world as Hercules. This may just have been the Roman adoption of the Greek demigod or it may imply some direct Phoenician influences, as Oriental goods from this period have also been found in Italy.

The House of Kadmus:39 Kadmos and his family seem to be associated intimately with the East and almost all things Phoenician. The first myth is that of his father Agenor, also the father of Phoinix, the father of the Phoenicians. Phoinix was the brother of Syros, Cilix, Cadmus and Europa. Europa was the mother of the Kings of Crete, while Syros is credited with founding Syria, Cadmus with Thebes, and Cilix with Cilicia. There is an Oriental flavour to many Greek myths, and many of their origins were assumed to have been Phoenician, probably because it was Phoenicians who introduced them. A connection was made between Crete and Phoenicia by making Minos a son of Europa. Rhodes was also drawn into the picture by a myth describing that Kadmos40 making a dedication to Athena here. There was also a hereditary line of Phoenician priests of Poseidon at Ialysos.41

The subject of another pertinent Greek myth is the mermaid Leukothea,42 the White Goddess. Originally a mortal daughter of Kadmos, she came to be identified with the Syrian fish goddess Atargatis. Leukothea acted as nursemaid to the young god Dionysus, her sister's son and the grandson of Kadmos. Frustratingly, despite the many myths associated with Kadmos, and the early Phoenician presence in Greece these imply, there is no archaeological evidence to back it up.43

The Gods: The Oriental influences seen in the gods and goddesses worshipped in Greece

This section deals with the Greek gods and notes discrepancies between the writings of Homer and Hesiod as to the Greek pantheon. Complicating matters further, prior to these writings there was no fixed number to the Greek deities44 and foreign divinities could easily be integrated and worshipped among the greater Greek gods. Local deities, too, were soon assimilated, hence the many epithets under which some Greek deities were worshipped.

This section traces the most Oriental goddess Aphrodite and her companion god, and then describes Near Eastern traits seen in the worship of other Greek gods and goddesses. It continues with a description of practices where comparisons and identifications can be made, and finishes with a summary of these practices as seen by the Greeks.

Aphrodite:45 Aphrodite"s un-Hellenic character is ascribed to the Phoenicians and thus she is the easiest to identify with her Eastern counterparts. The fully formed goddess was probably a relatively late arrival to the Greek pantheon. She is the Greek version of the Near Eastern Great Love Goddess who can be identified with the following: Anaea, Anaitis, Anath,46Aneitis, Ashera, Ashtart,47 Ashtoret, Ashtorith, Astarte, Atargatis, Hathor,48 Innana, Ishtar, Kilili,49 Kybele, Nanaea and Tanais.50 In these forms, she was worshipped in Armenia, Assyria, Cappadocia, Egypt, the Levant and Persia. Not all the goddesses bore direct comparison and there were blendings with the worship of Artemis, Demeter, Rhea and Cybele. Anaitis was identified with Artemis" fertility aspect and Anataea is found as a surname of Demeter, Rhea and Cybele. An early cult site to Aphrodite was Paphos,51 which also at some point in its history was a cult site to Astarte. The identification of the two goddesses allowed the cult site to be taken over by different peoples who merely changed the name of the goddess to whom they offered worship. There was a further similarity between the cults of Aphrodite and Astarte in the sacrifice of doves to both goddesses. Aphrodite"s Greek cult appears on Cyprus52 and she is called the �Cyprian".53 One myth sees her washed up in the foam on the shores near Paphos, while one of her epithets is aphrogena �foam born". Aphrodite was also known as Ourania 54 �queen of heaven" or �Heavenly One"; this is a title of Ishtar, the Heavenly One being an all-encompassing goddess of the population. As an all-embracing goddess, Aphrodite was worshipped under the name of pandemus.55 The title Ourania also associates her with Uranus, the emasculated god of heaven who in one of her birth myths is seen as her father. This myth has her born from semen from the castrated member Uranus from when it hits the sea and there is a depiction of a bearded Aphrodite emerging from a scrotal sac.56 This leads to a connection with another of her titles, Philomedes, meaning genital-loving, appropriate to a deity of sexual union. There is also a bearded Ishtar and Astarte, and the goddesses have an androgynous aspect. Homer took on board the Eastern mythology of Anu and his wife as being parents of the Love Goddess, making Zeus and Dione the parents of Aphrodite, where Dione is the feminine form of Zeus. A further myth makes Persephone a sister of Aphrodite by this same parentage. Zeus was worshipped together with a goddess Dione at Dodona.57 In the Iliad,58 Aphrodite supports the Trojans and she is the mother of Aeneas. In order to save his life she even takes the battlefield, as would Ishtar or Inanna. Homer, though, has little respect for Aphrodite"s fighting prowess and she cuts a poor fighting figure who as a result is wounded by Diomedes.59 The Greeks condensed the love and war goddess into one goddess of love, with the aspects of love accentuated and those of war diminished. Needless to say, an armed60 Aphrodite may still bestow victory, as may Ishtar. Disasters inevitably befell the mortal and immortal lovers of the Love Goddess, and Aphrodite"s lovers, such as Anchises, were no exception. In Near Eastern myth, this is why Gilgamesh refuses the love of Ishtar, who complains to her father. Ishtar"s companion god is Dumuzi, while Inanna has Tammuz; Kybele, Attis; and Aphrodite, Adonis. Death and rebirth are associated with these gods, who often have vegetation aspects to their characters. In Greece, the major vegetation fertility rites were held to Demeter, Persephone and to a lesser extent, Dionysus/Zagreus. Demeter takes the role of the Eastern fertility/earth61 goddesses Ishtar and Inanna, who are usually equated with Aphrodite, while the role of the companion god is taken by Persephone. Another variant on myth has Ishtar descending to hell to supplant her sister Erishkegal as queen of the dead, equating with the previously mentioned Zeus Dione parentage of Persephone and Aphrodite.

Adonis: Adonis is a young fertility god who represents death and rebirth in an oriental vegetation cult; he parallels the Eastern companion god62 Dumuzi/Tammuz and the Hittite Telipinu. He is a Semitic immigrant to the Greek pantheon and is therefore not counted among the greater gods. His cult was established in Greece by 600 BC and his worship was known to Sappho and her circle.63 Adon is the Semitic word for master or �lord" and i means �my", therefore Adonis translates as �my lord"; similarly the meaning of Baal, with whom he shares traits, is also �lord" or �master".64 Adonis has two origins: Cyprus and Byblos. On Cyprus,65 his father is either Cinyras of Paphos or Pygmalion. At Byblos, it is Phoinix, father of the Phoenicians. Paphos sees him linked to the goddess Aphrodite, with whom a tie has already been established. The worship of Adonis, a cult especially popular with women, was celebrated on flat roof tops by the planting of plants and the offering of incenses. It also involved lamentations for the dead god. The incense and wailing of women are identical practices to those found in Baal worship. In Greece, much of his role is fulfilled by the goddess Persephone. In Phoenicia, his worship supplanted that of Aleyin,66 a vegetation god and son of Baal, who was killed by Mot.

Dionysus: A later arrival to the Greek pantheon, whose cult is connected with that of Adrastus, another Eastern deity. Dionysus is a male fertility god, linked with the house of Kadmus, whose Phoenician connections have already been established. Like Adonis, Dionysus can also be linked to the god Tammuz, by his association with wailing women. Dionysiac religion shows an increasing Osirian presence after 660 BC, reinforcing the Eastern connection.

Hephaistos: The fire and volcano god Hephaestos was the Greek divine smith, a Lemnian67 version of the Asiatic craftsmen. He parallels the Phoenician god Chursor,68 who was credited as the inventor of iron. In the East, early metalwork and religion were connected, bringing about the rise of the god of metalcrafts. In Anatolia in the late second millennium, the Hittite priest kings were also smiths.69 The worship of the later smith god spread with the use of iron, yet this also lessened his importance because the smiths" craft became more accessible. In Greece, he was a popular god of the people who maintained his position among the twelve Olympians, yet his worship was unknown on the island of Crete. He does, though, have a connection with Cyprus and in particular with the cult of Aphrodite. Hephaistos and Aphrodite were linked in the Odyssey70 by Homer, as were Aphrodite and Ares. A strengthening of the former relationship occurs on Cyprus where, in the 12th century, two divinities connected with metalcrafts71 were worshipped; this pairing of deities would have helped to lead to the later association of Hephaistos and Aphrodite.

Artemis: The virgin goddess Artemis, who is probably identifiable from Linear B, has stronger Anatolian connections than Levantine. Her cults,72 especially that of Taurian Artemis, display certain traits that are also seen in the worship of Phoenician gods. Primarily she is associated with human sacrifice, making her a mistress of cruel and bloody rites. She is sometimes identified with the Phoenician warrior goddess Anat, though her major associations are with the goddess Kybele, mistress of animals. Anat, the goddess daughter of Baal, was likewise a virgin. She revelled in battle, paralleling the Egyptian lioness goddess Sekhmet, and was a female Ares rather than an Athena. The Sekhmet connection is further enhanced by depictions of Artemis with Eastern lions in her train. In the Iliad Artemis, like Aphrodite, retains Eastern warrior goddess origins, but Homer73 reduces this aspect of her and when she is beaten by Hera, she flees to father Zeus.74 There is a connection between Artemis and Aphrodite that can be seen in the cult of the Ephesian Artemis, who was a motherly Eastern fertility goddess.

Hecate: Another goddess of Near Eastern75 origin, known to Hesiod76 as a daughter of the Titans. She was later identified with Artemis and became lunar-aspected around the same time. Her cult of Laguda77 in Caria had eunuchs.

Athena: The goddess Athena has minimal Near Eastern connections, though from the 8th century in line with other Oriental influences seen at Corinth, she was worshipped with the title Phoinike.78

Apollo: Artemis" brother also has Semitic Eastern connections, as shown previously in mythology and through his cult sites on Cyprus. Apollo Kereates was the Mycenaean Horned God of the temple of Enkomi79 and was identified with the Semitic god Reshef or Re�ep, god of lightning. The identification between the two gods is made because both Re�ep and Apollo"s areas of influence are healing and plagues; furthermore both are archers: Apollo shoots arrows80 and Re�ep firebrands. From this and other evidence it is safe to say that the influences seen in the cult of Apollo are a mix of Cretan, Greek and Syro-Hittite.

Cultic Practices

This is broken into two parts; individual followers and general practice. Individuals may devote themselves to particular gods and this section deals with three different types of followers, two of whom - transvestites and eunuchs - are often closely connected. This section picks out those followers whose practices can be regarded as being particularly Eastern or where there is Greek practice with a strong parallel with those in the Phoenician world. The state role of Phoenician kings in cult is also discussed, as is who fulfils this function in Greece. Festivals, offerings, fire rituals and human sacrifice are discussed under the heading General Practices.


Prostitutes: The cult of Aphrodite numbered prostitutes among its followers,81 a direct copy of the Eastern practice in the worship of the Goddess. In the Near East, the act of prostitution was sacred and the priestesses of the cult of Ishtar were also prostitutes. In the Bible, we have a picture of Jezebel, a follower of Astarte, in a window. She has "painted her eyes and dressed her hair" in an attempt to save herself from Jehu.82 This is reminiscent of the scene depicted on ivories83 found at Nimrud which allude to the prostitutes of Astarte. The goddess in Persia had slaves who were her attendants and the female slaves were temple prostitutes. Later Egyptian temples also had prostitutes; temple servants who brought in money for the temple.

Transvestites: A small number of the followers of Aphrodite and Astarte were transvestites84 and some depictions of the sometimes androgynous goddess show her bearded.85 In Dionysiac myth, Pentheus dressed in women"s clothes to spy on the god"s followers and on the island of Kos a sacrifice was made to Heracles by a priest in woman"s clothing.86

Eunuchs: The followers of Aphrodite/Astarte sometimes attempted to copy the androgynous state in a more dramatic way and during the height of an orgiastic rite, emasculated themselves. Castration was also known in the cults of other Oriental deities,87 though it remained an uncommon practice in Greece.

Kings: Phoenician kings were also high priests and were responsible for building temples to the Phoenician gods; King Hiram built three major temples to the Phoenician gods Melqart, Astarte and Baal Shamen; and Abibal built a temple to Melqart on the isle of Tyre. The number of kings in Greece declined in the first millennium, but in places where they were maintained, like Sparta, they also held religious authority. Where kings had been overthrown, like Athens, there was a yearly elected office that gave a man the religious authority of a king. Phoenician religion was further organised in that it had a priestly caste and priestly colleges; these are paralleled in Egypt, Persia and Israel88 though not in Greece. In the East, spiritual and temporal power were combined, the king often being the head priest of the most powerful deity; Greek religion never gained this level of organisation.


Festivals and processions: These two are intimately linked as festivals often involved a procession where a god or goddess was brought out from their sanctuary, as in the Near East or Egypt.89 Most of the year the statue was kept in a part of the sanctuary, to which often only a priest was allowed access. Sacred duties often involved changing the statue"s clothes and making offerings of food. These actions could only take place once the Greeks had anthropomorphised their gods and created statues in their image. The celebration to Adonis, the Adonia a 2-8 day festival, occurred in June/July - the same month that Tammuz was worshipped in the East. This was an important Near Eastern festival that was also celebrated in Egypt and corresponded to the Athenian New Year"s festival. Festivals could only be celebrated by the populace during a slack time in the agricultural year. In the 8th century, the Corinthians celebrated the month of Phoinikaios.90 Another Athenian festival, the Thargelia alludes to human sacrifice in mainland Greece in the middle of the first millennium; on the sixth day of the festival a human scapegoat is either driven out of the city or killed in order to bring about purification.91 Plutarch, writing on Isis and Osiris mentions human holocausts in Egypt and Hebrew scriptures mention a goat being driven out into the desert.

Offerings: There are two types of offerings: votives92 and sacrifices. The former includes animal sacrifice, which was usually accompanied with first fruit offerings,93 and common in Semitic ritual.

Fire Rituals: This is an area of Greek practice where some Phoenician and Semitic practices are evidenced. Offerings were often made to a god by burning them and the air at religious ceremonies must often have had a pungent or aromatic scent. Incense such as frankincense, first mentioned by Sappho, and myrrh, used for fire rituals, are likely to have only been imported to Greece from the Near East from just before the middle of the first millennium. Incense offerings were particularly common in the cults of Aphrodite and Adonis. The actual fire cult, rather than hearth cult, may have reached Greece through the island of Cyprus, though fire is also important in the cult of Hephaistos. Holocausts, the consummation of the offering by fire, are characteristic of the Semitic religion,94 that of the West Semites, the Jews and the Phoenicians. The Greeks used holocausts in connection with their cults of the dead; to the Chthonic god Zeus Polieus a piglet was first burnt, then a bull slaughtered, a sequence familiar among the Semites. Fire and purity were very closely linked in Semitic practice and borrowings can be detected in myths associated with Isis and Demeter, both of whom attempted to immolate a king"s children to bestow immortality.

Human Sacrifice: As the first millennium progressed, this practice would appear to have gone into decline in the Phoenician homeland, but was still carried out by the Carthaginians in the time of the Punic wars. The most demanding of the gods was the bull-headed Moloch, into whose fiery arms children were given. Moloch with his bull associations was a god who may have been known to the Cretans,95 and thus also the early Greeks. If this is true, he may be linked with the minotaur96 of Greek myth, defeated by the hero Theseus. Bronze Age Greeks may have practised human sacrifice, as it is alluded to in Homer, as seen in Agamemnon"s sacrifice of Iphigeneia to Artemis and the substitution of a deer at the last minute. It would appear that the Greeks therefore normally used an animal substitute rather than a human sacrifice. There is a parallel as in Jewish Scripture, Abraham was commanded by god to sacrifice his son Isaac and at the last minute a ram was substituted. Human sacrifice is evidenced in the cult of Hera Akraia with reference to Medea and was identified as being influenced by the Phoenicians.97

In summing up this and the previous section, it must be stated that there was a tendency among the Greeks to link Eastern origins to Phoenicia, and in particular to the house of Kadmus.98 In actuality, myths were more likely to have developed through the mixing of cultures and identifications made between similar gods in different regions. The intermingling of myths means that direct translations did not always come through and that the story as adapted for a Greek god may have aspects to it that contradict locally held beliefs. The mixing of cultures also saw some old festivals celebrated in the name of new deities and the introduction of new cult practices.

The Physical world: The Physical signs of Phoenician influences in Greek Religion

The peoples who inhabited the Greek peninsula and islands in the late Bronze Age - say 1600-1200 BC - were already skilled in fine architecture and life size portrayal of human beings and animals in both sculpture and painting.99 This was because the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures were in contact with advanced Near Eastern cultures, but with the demise of both of the former civilisations came a major decline in the arts. The skills needed for fine art were eventually reintroduced in the Orientalising period when the Near East itself had settled down.100 Oriental goods found their way into the Greek world through sea-travelling merchants. These entrepreneurs either left dedications to Greek gods whom they identified with their own gods, or sold their goods to others who left them as offerings. In some areas, where they settled and established colonies, they set up their own temples which Greek travellers could see without visiting the Near East.


Temples: A theory cited by many modern scholars101 and that cannot be entirely dismissed is that the first Greek temples developed out of the early Mycenaean megaron house, and it is true that the basic architectural arrangement is similar. Indeed, the Samian Heraion c800 BC, the first Greek monumental stone temple, resembled the megaron house found at Chios. Though possibly based on the megaron pattern, early temples are on a grander scale and similar to those found in Egypt. The Heraion102 was a Hekatompedon, which established the canonical length of a hundred feet. At the back of the cella, the stone base of the cult statue was placed slightly off centre. Later a wooden peristyle was added, to be replaced by stone in the 7th century, when there was a rebirth of monumental Greek sculpture. Stone foundations are typically found on early Greek temples, whereas the upper layers and columns are of less durable building materials such as wood or clay. We can look to the monumental temples of Egypt as the origin of these foreign influences in architecture, with the Phoenicians as intermediaries.

The architecture of the Near East, especially that of the western Semites, presented a united front which imposed standards of architecture and divine iconography on the Aegean. Even back in the 13th to 12th centuries these architectural styles were adopted by the Mycenaeans. Western Semitic dominance can be seen from the sites of Zinjirli, Tell Halaf and Karatepe, where archaeological finds show that through the 8th and 9th centuries much of northern Syria103 and southern Anatolia underwent strong Semitic influences. 104 The centre of this was the Phoenician lands and from here new motifs were spread, though with such continuity that the art of the first millennium owed much to the second.105

The later style of early Phoenician and Phoenician-influenced temples can be seen from the 14th, 13th and 10th centuries. The 13th century temple at Alalakh had one antechamber and a cella, whereas both the 14th century temple of Hazor and the 10th century temple of Solomon106 had two antechambers before you reached the room at the rear. The temple of Solomon was long, with a courtyard situated in front containing a font or bowl of lustral water and an altar for sacrifice. The temple door was flanked by two named bronze columns.107 The temple was in three parts and a priest would pass further back into the temple until reaching the Most Holy area at the back - a dark, square room reached by a door covered by a curtain. The central room was rectangular and held a golden altar and cedar table. Before the Greeks anthropomorphised their gods, the Greek world knew no temples such as these, although they were common in the Near East. Thus the Greek temple as the home of the god108 that held the cult image in the naos was a creation of the 8th century.109

Architecture and temple building was an area where Phoenician influences could certainly be felt and "The Greeks themselves traced much of their originals to Eastern origins, to Egypt and Phoenician communities of the Levant." 110 The temples of the Near East were great stone and brick affairs with the lower courses generally being of stone elaborated with orthostats and friezes. It was on the Greek Islands that some of the first temples were seen, either built by Phoenicians or by those who met or lived with these traders; on Cyprus, Greeks, Phoenicians and others lived side by side. The early architecture of the settlers in Cyprus was a form of monumental architecture as can be seen by their temple complexes at Palaipaphos, Kition and Enkomi.111 The Mycenaeans" use of Canaanite forms of temple building was reinforced by later Phoenician settlers and from the late Cypriot II and III112 periods, Kition reflects these earlier influences. Kition was a well-established Phoenician settlement by the 9th century, with a temple to a fertility goddess whom the Phoenicians identified with their goddess Astarte. Another Cyprian temple, that of Aphrodite in Paphos, was established by Phoenicians from Askalon. The Phoenician presence arrived here at the beginning of the first millennium, but the temple site was first established at the end of the Mycenaean period. When the Phoenicians arrived on Cyprus, Cypriot traditions were submerged beneath those of the Orient, and sunk still further into oblivion with the arrival of western Greeks, as Cyprus became an intermediary place between East and West.

Pillars: The Mycenaeans had not needed temples; their places of worship were either natural sites or rooms within houses. Their gods were represented by natural items such as trees 113 and pillars;114 this feature paralleled contemporary Phoenician cult practices in which sacred stones played a large part. In Phoenician architecture, the column fulfilled a ritual rather than purely structural function, with pillars possibly representing gods. Records show that the son of Abibal115 erected a gold column in the temple of Baal Shamen (Greek Zeus Olympus). At Kition there were two free-standing pillars either side of the central opening as well as 28 forming the support for a pair of porticoes. Baetylic shapes of the god are present on Crete, and Cyrenaica has a small Baetylic altar.116 Mycenaean connections can be seen from Crete where there is a stalactite in the cave to the goddess Eileithya at Amnisus.117 Three pillars at the Kommos shrine may have represented a triad of deities, one of them possibly Artemis. Further proof of the sacredness of pillars comes from pillar depictions on rings.118 Pillar worship and pillar shrines were particularly common in the Syro-Palestine area in the second millennium and they are mentioned in the Hebrew scripture as free standing masseba119 or baetyls.120 These showed some similarities with the obelisks of Egypt. There is also an Egyptianising style that dates to the 7th century.121

Pillar Shrines: Temple B at Kommos 122 is one of our best examples of a pillar shrine. It would appear to be inspired by Phoenician models and stands out on Crete, because unlike in Cyprus, there are no indigenous Cretan pillar shrines. It was first used c800-760 BC, a period when the Phoenicians would appear to have been expanding westwards. Compared to other known Eastern pillars, those of this tripillar shrine are relatively small. There are similarities with the pillar from Kition and a single pillar found at a 7th century Greek temple at Sukas. There does not seem to have been the wholesale adoption of pillar worship by the later Greeks that can be seen from Minoan tripartite shrines. Another shrine, at Byblos, was a major centre of pillar worship, and pillar worship is still traceable at Sarepta from an 8th century shrine of Tanit-Ashtart. There were between one and three columns at Bit Hilani and Tyre had two columns of gold and emerald flanking the front of a god's tomb.

Decoration and styles: New features appeared in the art and architecture of this period: the lotus, guilloche, palmette, spiral and rosette. 123 These Eastern styles were commonly seen on early temples and on shrine representations such as that found at Idalion124 which displayed two lotus-capped columns. Cyprus also produced proto-Aeolic capitals bearing the Phoenician palmette. The prototypes for capitals were essentially Eastern as were most architectural forms, though not all Eastern types were copied. New Greek art styles using Eastern prototypes appeared after 750 BC125 when Assyria was on the rise. The spread from Egypt of the proto-Ionic capital in the form of a lotus blossom occurred in the 10th century when it entered Phoenicia and from here it came to Cyprus and Ionia.126 Phoenician ivories show this palmette, as do pilasters127 from Cyprus and a stone capital found at Arkades on Crete.

Orthostats and pediment relief: Near Eastern temples used orthostats, such as those found at Tell Halaf dating from the 9th century. Palaces, temples and other public buildings of the neo-Hittites in northern Syria were typically ornamented with many reliefs carved on orthostats set along the lower walls. From the second half of the 8th century, further connections can be seen between decorative motifs on seals, reliefs seen at Karatepe and tombs at Pithekoussai.128 Furthermore, figures on Syrian stele show similarities to the relief found at Kommos B. A Near Eastern connection can also be made between one of the Tell Halaf orthostats and the limestone pediment of the 7th century Temple A at Prinias. The orthostat depicts the slaying of Humbaba 129 by two heroes and the styles of the slayings are similar. Temple A also has a horse frieze, a minor relief frieze of the Eastern type, and it is likely that it was at ground level rather than around the top as the horses have abnormally long legs.130

Image: The cult image is common in the religion of the western Semites, Egyptians and Mesopotamians, and from the late stages of Minoan-Mycenaean civilisation statuettes of goddesses appear. From the Greek Dark Ages there are no images of the gods until the 8th century, when statuettes 131 of bronze and clay began to be made. These early images tended to be basic, such as the Apollo from Amyklai which is pillar shaped, or otherwise in the warrior style with shield, spear or lance.132

Life-size Human statuary: With the setting down of the Greek pantheon in the works of Homer and Hesiod came the desire to depict those gods as life-size statues displaying traits that would make it easy to identify which god was which. There are Syro-Hittite bronze statues of the warrior god brandishing his weapon in his right hand. In much the same manner, early depictions of Zeus and Poseidon have both carrying a weapon; a thunderbolt and trident respectively. The first statues were probably carved from wood, later being produced in limestone, a medium almost as easy to carve as wood. This early statuary often copied the forms set out in votive offerings. Eastern influences were strong and Egypt 133 is sometimes named as the origin of statuary, as Egyptian gods were predominantly depicted in stone. Kourai were often used to mark out graves or to represent worshippers in permanent attendance upon their gods. One of the earliest found pieces, the Auxerre goddess, falls into an area somewhere between votive offering and cult image. She is a limestone statue several feet tall and may well have fulfilled a function similar to modern day Catholic Madonnas. Her style is typical of Daedalic workmanship as it begins to move away from a direct copy of a Syrian original. Her depiction still remains typical of an Astarte fertility pose; pronounced breasts with one arm raised and drawn across the body. Her nose is set high, she has a triangular face and her wig-like hair shows more of a Syrian than Egyptian influence. The statue also shows traces of paint, and polychromy would appear to have been the rule on free standing and architectural sculpture. Greek full-size sculpture only began c660 BC and appears to follow Egyptian fashions in the stance of the male figure.

Temple Guardians: With reference to the Greeks, temple guardians comprise two major types: lintel goddesses and guardian felines. The Greek lintel goddess was generally on a similar scale to the Auxerre goddess, and similar to those found in the Near East; a seated goddess found at Catul H�y�k has distinct similarities to the Hera at Tiryns. At the Gortyn temple of Athena there was an unusual example; a life-size stone figure of a seated goddess. This temple was a rectangular building dating from 800 BC, and was built in a north Syrian tradition. Near Eastern influences can also be seen in the seated limestone goddess from Prinias134 of 650-625 BC. Typically in the Near East, stone lions were used to guard gates to temples and palaces. In the Greek world, too, guardian lions performed the same functions at Prinias and near the tomb of Menecrartes in Corcyra, 135 where a limestone lion was discovered. This latter piece is of early workmanship and has a formalised treatment of the head suggesting it was probably made from a description of the beast, as the artist was not likely to have seen a lion. The Greek adoption of animal sculpture was well developed by the end of the 7th century.


Oriental and Phoenician influences can be seen in grave goods and from Greek sanctuaries where the most common finds are votive offerings. Phoenicians gained a reputation as craftsmen and their works were found in royal palaces throughout the Near East. They particularly excelled in carving ivory and items they produced were often used as decorations or as votives. In the 8th century this translated into an increased number of offerings to gods.


Figurines: These were often the templates for later statuary and many different forms showing an array of styles and features have been found. The Oriental imagery of one hand held to the breast is typical; other statuettes and figurines typically show a mix of Assyrian and Egyptian styles. Astarte figures were found at the palace of Nimrud 136 and female terracotta votive figurines adopted from Near Eastern moulds were found at the site of Artemis Orthia. Fully nude and unashamed female figures exist in early Greek sculpture from the 8th century. However, nude female figurines were replaced in the first half of the 7th century so that in the 6th century only draped figures were represented. Five fully nude female figurines representing Astarte were found at Odos Peiraios. In Athens, naked female figures in ivory have been found in a grave from the middle of the 8th century. One ivory girl from Athens is rendered from the pudgier-faced, fleshier Syrian prototypes and is translated into an Attic diadem.137 Greek craftsmen copied Phoenician works, eventually developing their own forms. This meant in some cases that north Syrian cult scenes needed to be adapted. Syrian figurines have tilted heads and deep-set eyes. The nude goddess from Ithaca138 is an early depiction of the love and fertility goddess and is likewise modelled on Near Eastern contemporary figures. Two of the commonest types of Oriental ivories found are the votive Astarte plaques 139 and the lady at the window.140 The former plaque is a naked representation of the goddess, who often has her hand either raised in the air or to her breast The latter plaque shows a face at a balcony window and represents Astarte or her votary; they are found in both the Greek and Near Eastern world.141 In the Near East, plaques have been found from Khorsabad and Tell Beit Mirsim. Other ivories come from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, dating to before the final subjugation of the Phoenician cities that occurred c600 BC - bone replaces ivory at the Orthia site after this date. Ivories were also found at the Idaean cave and on Rhodes, where six were found in a Phoenician and north Syrian style.142 Much of the ivory may have come from north Syria as there was a flourishing school of ivory carving at Hama.143

Metal: A large number of Eastern votives, often coming from North Syria, were tripod cauldrons. The protomes riveted to the handles were often in the forms of bulls, lions and griffins. The bulls may have some religious significance, but the other creatures were purely apotropaic. Their function - to scare away evil spirits - was much the same as that of some masks and the use of Gorgoneions.

Masks: Moulds144 were used in the mass production of clay plaques and face masks, and this mass production helped canonise and stereotype proportions. At the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, a large number of sepulchral masks were unearthed dating to the end of the 7th century; of these a sizeable proportion resembled those of the Near East;145 others were vaguely reminiscent of gold death masks found at Mycenae. Another mask that archaeologists have found is a Greek terracotta anthropomorphic mask from the early Iron Age. This mask resembles Near Eastern models such as those found at Hazor and Tel Qasile. Masks are used for concealment of the face and typically have eye-holes if they are to be worn. The masks of Orthia are a mixture as some have eye-holes and others do not. They may have been used in dances to honour Artemis or in connection with Chthonic ritual 146 where the wearer takes the part of the deity.

Gorgons: The Gorgon figure entered Greek art sometime around the middle of the 7th century; as a direct copy of an Assyro-Babylonian demon or giant. Some of the commonest portrayals of her show her being slain by Perseus,147 a scene that resembles closely the one between Gilgamesh and Humbaba. In Syria there was a vogue for this scene of Gilgamesh and his companion slaying Humbaba, the wild man of the woods. In Greek art, Gilgamesh"s long skirted companion is replaced by Athena and this may be a case where a Greek copy of a motif has either been misunderstood or adapted to Greek tastes. Perseus turning his eyes away from the monster is also a copy from the Near East. Returning to the Greek myth, the victorious Perseus gave Athena Medusa"s head, which she placed on her shield as the terror-inspiring Aegis. The power of the Gorgon was supposed to ward off evil, which is why in the Greek world Gorgoneions are found frequently on coins, vases, as masks and on temples; they can also be seen in Etruria where the practice was copied of hanging a mask over the lintel.


The Phoenicians influenced many of the ways in which the Greeks looked at their gods, although they were by no means the only influence on Greek religion. This, like other areas of Greek life, showed inputs from all the surrounding and more advanced cultures. In this essay, I have tried to show that there are many influences on Greek religion and that even some of these - such as the Anatolian myths - may have come to Greece by way of the Phoenicians. Indeed, the Phoenicians own beliefs contained assimilations of Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Hittite religion, so any influence they had on Greece was not wholly original in the literal sense.

The Greeks themselves were masters of assimilation. They did not simply take on all the myths and religious practices that they encountered, and were unlikely to have had a complete understanding or identification with foreign gods and rituals. This is demonstrated by the fact that early art shows depictions of decidedly unGreek features, gradually taking on more and more Greek features with the passing of time. It is indeed unlikely that the Oriental input would have had any great effect on the way ancient Greeks actually carried out their lives, and seems largely cosmetic. Their beliefs remained the same, and their attitude towards myths generally may have been irreverent, considering them tales emphasising points rather than truths that had to be believed in their entirety.

Perhaps the most enduring testament to the Phoenician influence of Greece and its islands is in the architecture, which changed enormously in this period, with Greek city states starting to build their first temples. The power of a nation or state is often reflected in its architecture. In the East, there were many powerful rulers who governed vast swathes of territory and large population masses who had to be kept complacent: impressive architecture has always helped make this task easier. This was a very different situation to Greece, which was highly fragmented. The Eastern temple fulfilled a unifying role for the people and was often used as a rallying point. Eastern kings utilised temples to gain fealty as they often held the highest priestly office. Power tended not to be concentrated in the hands of one individual in Greece, but the temple nonetheless helped provide a sense of identity and strength. Greek temples were a visual display of the power and influence of an individual city and its ability to construct monuments to its gods. The religious art of the period shows some of the influences that the Greeks took on board, with the site of Artemis Orthia showing links with the East through ivory and masks. The appearance, too, of the Gorgon in art and as decoration is also likely to have come via Phoenicia.


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  93. E.V. Rieu (1973): Homer the Iliad. Penguin, London. 469 pages.
  94. Roaf (1990): The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia. Time Life, Amsterdam. 238 pages.
  95. Henri Stierlin (1984): The Cultural Atlas of Greece. Aurun Press Ltd, London. 96 Pages.
  96. Joseph W. Shaw
  97. (1978): "Minoan Tripartite Shrine" AJA 82 429-448
  98. (1980): "Excavations at Kommos (Crete) during 1979". Hesperia 49, 207-250.
  99. (1989): "Phoenicians in Southern Crete". AJA 93, 165-183.
  100. Evelyn Lord Smithson (1968): "The tomb of a rich Athenian lady ca 850 BC." Hesperia 37, 77-116.
  101. R.A. Tomlinson (1976): Greek Sanctuaries. Paul Elek, London. 150 pages.
  102. Gocha R. Tsetskhladze; Franco De Angelis (Eds.) (1994): The Archaeology of Greek Colonisation. Essays dedicated to Sir John Boardman. Oxford University Committee for Archaeology, Oxford. 149 pages.
  103. William A. Ward (Ed.) (1968): The role of the Phoenicians in the interaction of Mediterranean Civilizations. Papers presented to the Archaeological Symposium at the American University of Beirut; March, 1967. The American University of Beirut, Beirut. 152 pages.
  104. Sir Leonard Woolley (1953): A Forgotten Kingdom Penguin, London. 200 pages.
  105. James C. Wright (1987): "Temple Terrace at the Argive Heraeum." JHS 107, 188-201


  1. Back to first part of essay 1 Many early and some later authors merely state that there was an Eastern influence without going on to substantiate such claims. These authors do not therefore appear in the bibliography unless they have written material which may have been included in the second section under Physical signs of Phoenician Influence in Greek Religion. See also Cambridge Ancient History (1925) Volume III page 639 for a similar comment.
  2. Other cities include Sarepta, Marathus, Berytus and Ecdippa.
  3. In the second millennium the Phoenician coastal strip was up to 500 km long, but this was subject to change due to the great powers in the surrounding region using the area as a battlefield.
  4. The turning to overseas trade and settlement can also be seen in Ionia, where in the 7th century and 6th century, Lydian and Achaemenid pressure on the land drove the Greek cities to explore and colonise the Black Sea.
  5. The Phoenician king of Tyre fled to Cyprus when his city was overrun by the Assyrians; an action that would have greatly strengthened the Phoenician influences present on the Island.
  6. A Phoenician presence has been confirmed on Rhodes, Crete and Cyprus.
  7. The cities of Motya, Panormo, and Solunto.
  8. This period, beginning around 1200 BC, corresponded with the change from Bronze to Iron Age. A new people, the Philistines, descended from the Sea Peoples arrived in the Levant. They brought with them their own gods, some of which were identified and taken on board by the Phoenicians. They also monopolised iron working in this region for the next few centuries.
  9. At Lefkandi, bowls with an elaborate palmette or tree of life were found as were pendants representing the Egyptian goddess Isis and a lion-headed goddess. Phoenician items were also among those found in the grave of a rich Athenian lady dating to c 850 BC and three other Kerameikos tombs. See Evelyn Lord Smithson (1968): " The Tomb of a rich Athenian lady c850 BC" Hesperia 37. p 82-83. and J.N. Coldstream (1977): Geometric Greece. pages 55-56.
  10. Dunbabin (1948): "The Early History of Corinth" JHS 68. page 66. Dunbabin puts a case for Corinthians rather than Euboeans as the early Greek traders, due to finds of Corthianising ware at this site. Homann-Wedeking (1968): Archaic Greece agrees with this line for Greeks in the Levant. See also Woolley (1953): A Forgotten Kingdom page 172-192 and Boardman (1980): The Greeks Overseas pages 38-54.
  11. See Dunbabin above. The Corinthians identified the local hero Melikertes with the Syrian god Melkarth.
  12. Shaw (1989): "Phoenicians in Southern Crete". AJA 93, 165-183. And Shaw (1980): "Excavations at Kommos" Hesperia 49 207-250. Shaw sees less evidence for Phoenicians in Crete than does Boardman.
  13. Harden (1963): The Phoenicians page 61.
  14. The Kommos shrine is discussed more thoroughly under pillar shrines.
  15. For the origin of Europa see Kadmos.
  16. This deals mainly with similarities in practices and much of it is covered under Pillars and Stones, pillar shrines and pillars.
  17. D. Harden (1963): The Phoenicians. page 84. Baalat of Byblos was identified with Isis/Hathor.
  18. From Biblical references we know that Ithobaal’s daughter Jezebel married Ahab of Israel, and that Canaanite deities such as Baal were worshipped in Samaria. However, there was a Jewish priestly backlash against these new gods which resulted in the fall of the house of Ahab. In the Graeco-Phoenician relationship, there is nothing comparable to this.
  19. Guthrie (1959): "Early Greek Religion in the light of the decipherment of Linear B" Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. 1959 No 6. Page 36.
  20. Eshmun is a deity whose worship would appear to have been introduced into Phoenicia in the 7th century when the identification with the Greek gods was made. His traits make him both an Adonis and Asclepius like figure.
  21. For changes from triads to pairs of deities see Moscati (1968): The world of the Phoenicians and Aubet (1993): The Phoenicians and the West. p 126. See also Shaw who draws parallels between a Greek triad of deities (Apollo, Artemis and Leto) and Phoenician or Egyptian groupings of gods.
  22. Jan Bremmmer (Ed.) (1988): Interpretations of Greek Mythology. Routledge, London. 294 pages.
  23. Gurney (1975): The Hittites page 194.
  24. Burkert (1988): Interpretations of Greek Mythology "Oriental and Greek mythology" page 19-21.
  25. Gurney (1975): The Hittites p 191.
  26. For more on cults and shrines see pillars and pillar shrines.
  27. Bronze shields in an orientalizing style have been found at the Idaean cave. They have a Tree of Life motif on them.
  28. Gurney (1975): The Hittites p 191.
  29. Jane Harrison (1962): Prolegomena to the study of Greek religion p235.
  30. There was a pairing of serpents seen in both Babylonian and Greek Mythology. This pairing was Tiamat and Qingu in Babylon and Pytho and Typhon in Greece.
  31. Typhon in Hesiod Theogony 820-880. Burkert in footnotes quotes Theogony 820-868.
  32. Similarities with the myth of the dragon Illuyankas. Gurney (1975): The Hittites pages 181-182 and Burkert (1985): Greek Religion Footnotes. Apollodorus 1. 39-44.
  33. W. Burkert (1992): The Orientalising Revolution p 82-83
  34. W. Burkert (1992): The Orientalising Revolution p 82-83
  35. For links between Perseus and Gilgamesh see masks and Gorgons pages 27 and 28.
  36. Rawlinson (1953): Phoenicia page 114.
  37. Contenau (1949): La Civisation Phenicienne page 94. And Moscati (1968): The World of the Phoenicians page 35. In Phoenician myth Iolaus-Eshmun resurrected the god Heracles-Melqart as did Greek Asclepius revive Heracles.
  38. This practice is paralleled in Greece and is especially strong in the Black Sea. Here the god is Apollo the main deity of Miletus the city central in overseas colonisation from Ionia.
  39. For Kadmos read also Cadmus, or Kadmus. For myth relating to Kadmos see Harden (1963): The Phoenicians. p57.
  40. E. Craik (1980): The Dorian Aegean. page 54.
  41. Coldstream (1969): "The Phoenicians of Ialysos". Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 16, 1-7.
  42. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion page 172.
  43.  (1975): Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. II and Cambridge Ancient History Vol. III 2nd edition page 7.
  44. W. Burkert (1991): "Homer’s Anthropomorphism: Narrative and Ritual" In New Perspectives in Early Greek Art p 83. The number was set at 12 and is the same as that found in Hittite mythology. An assembly of gods was also characteristic of Ugaritic text
  45. W. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion Aphrodite p 152-156
  46. Innana is Sumerian, Anath is Canaanite and Ishtar Akkadian.
  47. Ashtorith is western Semitic and there are Biblical references to Astarte, Ashtart and Ashtoret.
  48. Harden (1963): The Phoenicians p 84. At Byblos Hathor and Baalat are identified as the same goddess.
  49. Mallowan (1978): The Nimrud Ivories p 33.
  50. Many of these names are listed in Robert E. Bell (1991): Women of Classical Mythology. p53 under Aphrodite.
  51. The situation at Kition would appear to be similar.
  52. Cotterell (1985): Origins of European Civilization page 129. The two main sites are Amathos and Paphos
  53. Odyssey VIII.
  54. W. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion p 155.
  55. Arthur Cotterell (1985): Origins of European Civilization. page 131.
  56. H Payne (1940): Perachora pl 102 no 183a cited in Burkert Greek Religion footnote 30 p 155.
  57.  (1975): Cambridge Ancient History. Volume II part II page 904.
  58. The Judgement of Paris. Helen was Aphrodite’s reward to Trojan Paris for deciding in her favour.
  59. Homer Iliad V 364.
  60. Aphrodite Areia ‘the warlike’ worshipped at Sparta. Pausanias 3.17.5.
  61. E.O. James (1960): The Ancient Gods p 80.
  62. E.O. James (1960): The Ancient Gods p 308 and Moscati (1968): The World of the Phoenicians p 33..
  63. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion p 167.
  64. For the meaning of Adonis see Rawlinson (1953): Phoenicia p 35.
  65. For the Cyprian parentage of Adonis see Apollodorus III. XVI 3-4 in J.G Frazer (1921): Apollodorus the library volume II. And for the Phoenician Phoinix see Evelyn White (1914): Hesiod: the Homeric Hymns and Homeria. p171 under catalogues of women and Eoiae no 21. (Hes fr 139).
  66. Larousse (1959): Encyclopaedia of Mythology, Harden (1963): The Phoenicians page 83 and Contenau (1949): La Civisation Phenicienne. page 81.
  67. The local Hephaestus cult may have originated in Karia.
  68. The Philistines, Sea Peoples who overran part of the Levant at the end of the Bronze Age brought ironworking to the region. See Moscati (1968): The World of the Phoenicians p 37.
  69. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion p 167. See also Gurney (1975): The Hittites. p 84 on the king and ironworking.
  70. Homer Odyssey 8. 266-366.
  71. Vassos Karageorghis (1982): Cyprus p 104. Sanctuaries where metal work has been found are Golgoi, Myrtou-Pigadhes and the temple of Aphrodite at Palaepaphos.
  72. See masks and Artemis Ortheia.
  73. Homer does not attribute lunar connections to Artemis, the moon connection only comes in the fifth century.
  74. Homer Iliad 21.470-514.
  75. She was known in ancient times as the Karian goddess.
  76. Hesiod Theogony 411-452.
  77. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion page 97. Lagina.
  78. T.J. Dunbabin (1948) "The Early History of Corinth." JHS 68 page 66.
  79. Dietrich (1991): "Aegean Sanctuaries: Forms and functions". In: New Perspectives in Early Greek Art page 143.
  80. Iliad I. 30-105. 333-410.
  81. There were prostitutes of Aphrodite at Corinth and also at her shrines on Cyprus, these include those to Aphrodite Parakyptousa. See Dunbabin (1948): "The early History of Corinth" JHS 68 p 62-67 and Cotterell (1985) Origins of European Civilization p 130.
  82. 2 Kings 9:30.
  83. See votive art. Two can be seen in the British Museum, Catalogue numbers (BM 118155-6)
  84. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion page 97 Aphrodite at Askalon and Astarte at Kition.
  85. The depiction of the goddess may be a misinterpreted Greek copy of a pointy chinned Syrian original. See section II page 24 on statuary and 26 on figurines.
  86. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion page 210.
  87. The main goddesses Kuba-Kybele and Artemis-Upis at Ephesus (Burkert (1985) Greek Religion p 97), also the Dea Syria (Evelyn Abbott (1877): The History of Antiquity page 366 Lucian), Hecate, and Aphrodite of Aphaea in Syria and the main god Attis.
  88. In Persia it was the tribe of the Magi and in Israel it is the tribe of the Levites.
  89. The Egyptian goddess Hathor was carried in a procession to the temple of her companion god once a year.
  90. Dunbabin (1948) "Early History of Corinth" JHS 68 p 62-67.
  91. Jane Harrison (1962): Prolegomena to Greek Religion p 95-105. Pharmakos.
  92. See votives.
  93. W. Burkert.(1985): Greek Religion p 68.
  94. W. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion p 63.
  95. Bull sacrifice was important in Crete and also played a part in the cult of Moloch.
  96. Rawlinson (1953): Phoenicia p 114
  97. Dunbabin (1948): "The Early History of Corinth" JHS 68 p 66.
  98. There is little or no archaeological evidence to back up a Phoenician migration to north Greece.
  99. John Barron (1981): Greek Sculpture page 7.
  100. The Sea Peoples caused major disruptions at the close of the Bronze Age and brought down at least one Great Empire.
  101. Laisné (1995), Peter Green (1973), and G. Richter (1974).
  102. Coldstream (1977): "Greek temples Why and Where?" p 70-73. In P. Easterling and Muir Greek Religion and Society.
  103. The north Syrian neo-Hittite states were survivals which outlasted the Hittite empire of the late second millennium.
  104. Akurgal (1968): The Birth of Greek Art p 143.
  105. See decoration and relief.
  106. A better description of the temple of Solomon can be found in the Bible 2 Chronicles 3.
  107. See page 22-23 for pillars and pillar shrines. The names of the pillars are Jachin and Boaz. Harden (1963) The Phoenicians. p 91.
  108. W. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion p 88. Temple and cult image.
  109. Bernard C. Dietrich (1991): "Aegean Sanctuaries: Forms and Functions" p 141
  110. R.A. Tomlinson (1976): Greek Sanctuaries. p 34
  111. Bernard C. Dietrich (1991): "Aegean Sanctuaries: Forms and Functions" p 142.
  112. Vassos Karageorghis (1982): Cyprus. page 61. Cypriot III 1225-1050 BC. III C 1150-1050 BC.
  113. An Oak at Dodona was still being worshipped in later times.
  114. M. R. Popham (1994) "Precolonisation: early Greek contact with the East." p 17.
  115. Ruler 969-936 BC.
  116. A. J Evans (1901): "Mycenaean Tree and Pillar Cult" JHS 21. Illustrated in fig 9 p 115.
  117.  (1975) CAH Vol. II pt II page 857.
  118. Examples of these can be found in the (1975) Cambridge Ancient History volume II part II pages 863-864.
  119. Massebah means ‘which have been set up’ and Baetyl ‘home of the gods’.
  120. Shaw (1980): "Excavations at Kommos" Hesperia 49 page 246.
  121. Shaw (1980): "Excavations at Kommos" Hesperia 49 page 247
  122. See J.H. Shaw (1991): AJA 93 "Phoenicians in Southern Crete" p 181.
  123. Gisela Richter (1974):Greek Art. p 22.
  124. D. Harden (1963): The Phoenicians p 93.
  125. Akurgal (1968): The Birth of Greek Art p 169.
  126. A. Kempinski (1979): Archaelogia Mundi, Syria-Palestine page 100.
  127. Boardman (1964): Greek Art page 62. On this page Boardman states that Eastern capitals were only small and used to decorate furniture; not pillars.
  128. A. Rathje (1979): "Oriental imports in Etruria" p 170-171. In Ridgway (1979): Italy before the Romans and Akurgal (1968): The Birth of Greek Art p 141.
  129. Humbaba see Monsters and later this section under masks and gorgons.
  130. Barron (1981): Greek Sculpture p 14.
  131. See later this section under Art, votives.
  132. Burkert (1985): Greek Religion p 90.
  133. H. Stierlin (1984): The Cultural Atlas of Greece Stierlin puts a strong emphasis on Egypt as the origin of the temple and statuary ignoring the diffusion of ideas through Phoenicia and the similarities between votive offerings and early statues. Boardman (1964): Greek Art also follows a strong Egyptian line to temple and statue origins. He ignores any Phoenician involvement stating a Greek presence in Egypt from the mid 7th century. This ignores the fact that the orientalising period was already underway and that a need for temples had already been established by the anthropomorphism of the Greek gods.
  134. Barron (1981) Greek sculpture p 14.
  135. Barron (1981): Greek Sculpture p 16.
  136. M. Mallowan (1978): The Nimrud Ivories 31, p 33, Roaf (1990): The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia illustration on page 157.
  137. Coldstream (1977): Geometric Greece p 358 reference to fig 42 b-d found on page 131.
  138. S. Benton (1934-35) " Excavations in Ithaca III" ABSA 35 62-63 no 15 pl 16. Reference In Coldstream (1977): Geometric Greece. Footnote 34 to page 176.
  139. Dunbabin (1957): The Greeks and their Eastern neighbours. p 51 and Albright (1963): The Archaeology of Palestine page 107.
  140. Roaf (1990): The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia illustration p 157.
  141. Henri Frankfort (1970): The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient. p 321.
  142. Coldstream (1977): Geometric Greece page 289.
  143. Coldstream (1977): Geometric Greece page 130.
  144. Boardman (1964): Greek Art p 54 -55t.
  145. See Harden (1963): The Phoenicians p 199 illustration fig 62 and also Excavations at Artemis Ortheia.
  146. J.H. Croon (1955): JHS 75 "The Masks of the underworld". p12-13
  147. Burkert (1988): Interpretations of Greek Mythology "Oriental and Greek mythology" page 26. see also Peter Green (1973): Ancient Greece page 66 caption 82. Illustration of an ivory relief 630-620 BC from Samos of Perseus decapitating Medusa who has a grinning face which resembles a mask.
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