Phoenician Canaanite Religion -- Pagan
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Phoenician religion was inspired by the powers and processes of nature. Many of the gods they worshiped, however, were localized and are now known only under their local names. A pantheon was presided over by the father of the gods, but a goddess was the principal figure in the Phoenician pantheon.

Gods and Goddesses

  • Adon(is), Handsome Young God
  • Anath, goddess of Love and War, the Maiden
  • Asherah or Baalat Gubl, Goddess of Byblos
  • Astarte (or Ashtarte), Queen of Heaven
  • Baal, El, Ruler of the Universe, Son of Dagan, Rider of the Clouds, Almighty, Lord of the Earth
  • Baal-Hammon, God of Fertility and Renewer of all Energies in the Phoenician colonies of the Western Mediterranean
  • Eshmun or Baalat Asclepius, God of Healing
  • Kathirat, Goddesses of marriage and pregnancy
  • Kothar, Hasis, the Skilled, God of Craftsmanship
  • Melqart, King of the Underworld and Cycle of Vegetation
  • Mot, God of Death
  • Resheph and Shamash, Gods of (?)
  • Shahar, God of Dawn
  • Shalim*, God of Dusk
  • Shapash, Sun Goddess
  • Tanit, Chief Goddess of Carthage
  • Yamm, God of the Sea (?)
  • Yarikh, Moon God

* The name Shalim, God of Dusk, seems strickingly similar to the author's first name. Could the root of the latter's be coming from this god's name?

Phoenician Theology, Theogony and Creation Story

For essays on Phoenician theology, theogony (god-idea) and the Phoenician creation story, please use the related links.

Institutions and Practices

The temple typically occupied a dominating site in the city along with the palace. Like the palace, it had political, administrative, and economic functions, as well as its distinctive religious functions. It was staffed by priests, singers and other musicians, diviners, scribes, and other specialists. There sacrifices of animals and children (in some Phoenician colonies in the Mediterranean) were offered to the gods.

During Roman Empire, one of the most important cities of Phoenicia was Heliopolis. At Heliopolis (Baalbeck) the Roman emperors, particularly the Severans, constructed a monumental temple complex, the most spectacular elements of which were the Temple of Jupiter Heliopolitanus and the Temple of Bacchus.

Religious Symbolism, Punic Stelae

Cippi and stelae of limestone are characteristic monuments of Punic art and religion, and are found throughout the western Phoenician world in unbroken continuity, both historically and geographically. The majority was set up over urns containing the ashes of human sacrifices, which had been placed within open-air sanctuaries. Such sanctuaries constitute striking relics of the Western Mediterranean Phoenician or Punic civilisation.

Faith System of Gods and Goddesses

The system of gods and goddesses in Phoenician religion was influences and has influenced other cultures. As indicated below, there are too many similarities to be overlooked. In some instances the names of gods underwent very little change when they were borrowed. Even the legends maintained major similarities. For example, Ashtarte in Phoenician and Aphrodite in Greek or Adonis in both. Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian and others had their influences on the Phoenician faith system and borrowed from it.

The Phoenicians worshipped a triad of deities, each having different names and attributes depending upon the city in which they were worshipped, although their basic nature remained the same. The primary god was El, protector of the universe, but often called Baal. The son, Baal or Melqart, symbolized the annual cycle of vegetation and was associated with the female deity Astarte in her role as the maternal goddess. She was called Asherar-yam, our lady of the sea, and in Byblos she was Baalat, our dear lady. Astarte was linked with mother goddesses of neighboring cultures, in her role as combined heavenly mother and earth mother. Cult statues of Astarte in many different forms were left as votive offerings in shrines and sanctuaries as prayers for good harvest, for children, and for protection and tranquillity in the home. The Phoenician triad was incorporated in varying degrees by their neighbors and Baal and Astarte eventually took on the look of Greek deities.

What remains to be said is that Phoenician faith system evolved and changed as it was influenced by invader who brought along their own dieties. Hence, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Percian, Greek and Roman gods found their way to Phoencian temples. This is evident in the writing of Herodotus as well as in the archeaological records.

Baal, El, Ruler of the Universe

Baal (ba'al), plural Baalim (ba'allm) [Semitic,= possessor], name used throughout the Old Testament for the deity or deities of Canaan. The term was originally applied to various local gods, but by the time of the Ugarit tablets (14th cent. B.C.), Baal had become the ruler of the universe. Baal (Hadad) is regularly denominated "the son of Dagan," although Dagan (biblical Dagon) does not appear as an actor in the mythological texts. Baal also bears the titles "Rider of the Clouds," "Almighty," and "Lord of the Earth." He is the god of the thunderstorm, the most vigorous and aggressive of the gods, the one on whom mortals most immediately depend. Baal resides on Mount Zaphon, north of Ugarit, and is usually depicted holding a thunderbolt. Baal, also known as El. In 1978, Israeli archaeologists excavating at an eighth-century B.C. site in the eastern Sinai desert found several Hebrew inscriptions mentioning Ba'al and El in the form of "Elohim," a name used to refer to God in the Hebrew Bible. Further, whenever the Jews refer to God or our God they use "Eloh, Elohaino or Elohim."

The Ugarit tablets make him chief of the Canaanite pantheon. He is the source of life and fertility, the mightiest hero, and the lord of war. There were many temples of Baal in Canaan, and the name Baal was often added to that of a locality, e.g., Baal-peor, Baal-hazor, Baal-hermon. The Baal cult penetrated Israel and at times led to a syncretism. The practices of holy prostitution and child sacrifice were especially abhorrent to the Hebrew prophets, who denounced the cult and its "high places" (temples). This abhorrence probably explains the substitution of Ish-bosheth for Esh-baal, of Jerubbesheth for Jerubbaal (a name of Gideon), and of Mephibosheth for Merib-baal. The substituted term probably means "shame." The final detestation of the term is seen in the use of the name Beelzebub (see SATAN), probably the same as Baal-zebub. 1 Kings 11.4-8; 2 Kings 1. The Baal of 1 Chron. 4.33 is probably the same as RAMAH 3. As cognates of Baal in other Semitic languages there are Bel (in Babylonian religion) and the last elements in the Tyrian names Jezebel, Hasdrubal, and Hannibal.

Astarte, Queen of Heaven

Also spelled ASHTART, great goddess of the ancient Near East, chief deity of Tyre, Sidon, and Elath, important Mediterranean seaports. She was called Asherar-yam, our lady of the sea, and in Byblos she was Baalat, our dear lady. Astarte was linked with mother goddesses of neighboring cultures, in her role as combined heavenly mother and earth mother. Cult statues of Astarte in many different forms were left as votive offerings in shrines and sanctuaries as prayers for good harvest, for children, and for protection and tranquillity in the home.

Hebrew scholars now feel that the goddess Ashtoreth mentioned so often in the Bible is a deliberate compilation of the Greek name Astarte and the Hebrew word boshet, "shame," indicating the Hebrew contempt for her cult. Ashtaroth, the plural form of the goddess's name in Hebrew, became a general term denoting goddesses and paganism.

King Solomon, married to foreign wives, "went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians" (I Kings 11:5). Later the cult places to Ashtoreth were destroyed by Josiah. Astarte/Ashtoreth is the Queen of Heaven to whom the Canaanites had burned incense and poured libations (Jer. 44).

Astarte, goddess of love and war, shared so many qualities with her sister, Anath, that they may originally have been seen as a single deity. Their names together are the basis for the Aramaic goddess Atargatis.

Astarte was worshipped as Astarte in Egypt and Ugarit and among the Hittites, as well as in Canaan. Her Akkadian counterpart was Ishtar. Later she became assimilated with the Egyptian deities Isis and Hathor, and in the Greco-Roman world with Aphrodite, Artemis, and Juno, all aspects of the Great Mother.

Anath, Goddess of Love and War

Anath, also spelled ANAT, chief West Semitic goddess of love and war, the sister and helpmate of the god Baal.

Considered a beautiful young girl, she was often designated "the Virgin" in ancient texts. Probably one of the best known of the Canaanite deities, she was famous for her youthful vigour and ferocity in battle; in that respect she was adopted as a special favourite by the Egyptian king Ramses II (reigned 1279-13 BC). Although Anath was often associated with the god Resheph in ritual texts, she was primarily known for her role in the myth of Baal's death and resurrection, in which she mourned and searched for him and finally helped to retrieve him from the netherworld.

Egyptian representations of Anath show a nude goddess, often standing on a lion and holding flowers. During the Hellenistic Age, the goddesses Anath and Astarte (q.v.) were blended into one deity, called Atargatis (q.v.).

Adon (Adonis), Handsome and Young God

(For a details about Adonis and his cult, please see the study in this website entitled "Who was the Phoenician god Adon (Adonis) and how did his name become "Lord" in Hebrew?")

The son of Cinyras and Myrrha, according to Greek Mythology. He was a young god who was worshiped at a country shrine of Aphka at the source of the river Nahr Ibrahim. His name was/is used by the Jews whenever they encountered the name of "Yahweh" (YHWH) in prayer and they pronounced (and still pronounce) it "Adonai".

Lucian (second century A.D.) relates that the death of adon(is) was marked by annual rites of mourning when the river became red with the god's blood. One legend of his death happens around the love affair between him and the goddess Ashtarte which another god envied. He, in the form of a wild boar, attacks and kills Adonis and where his blood fell there grows red poppies every year. However, as Ashtarte weaps for his loss, she promises to bring him back to life every spring.

The legend of Adonis carries over to Greek Mythology but the story changes slightly there.

In Greek Mythology, he was Aphrodite's beloved. In fact, he was so handsome that both Aphrodite and Persephone quarrelled over him. When their violent dispute was brought before Zeus, it was ruled that for a third part of the year Adonis was to dwell by himself; for a third part with Aphrodite; and for a third part with Persephone.

There is another myth that tells of his death. Aphrodite had warned Adonis against the dangers of the hunt, telling him to be especially wary of any wild beasts that would not turn and flee but stood firm Because he was so fond of hunting, he paid no heed to Aphrodite. As a result, he was mortally wounded by a wild boar. In his memory, she transformed his body into an anemone.

According to this version, Persephone restored him to life on the condition that he spend six months of the year with her and the rest with Aphrodite.

In Greek mythology, Adonis was a handsome young shepherd loved by APHRODITE. The offspring of a love affair between King Cinyras of Cyprus and his daughter Myrrha, Adonis was born from the trunk of the myrrh tree into which his mother had been changed by the gods. Aphrodite left the infant Adonis in the care of PERSEPHONE, the queen of the underworld, who also fell in love with him. While hunting, Adonis wounded a wild boar, which turned on him and killed him. Aphrodite pleaded that he be restored to her, but Zeus decided that both goddesses should share him for eternity: Adonis would spend the spring and summer with Aphrodite and the rest of the year with Persephone in the underworld. The anemone, the wild flower that each year blooms briefly and then dies, is said to have sprung from his blood. Adonis, imported probably from the Phoenicians, came to be revered as a dying-and-rising god. Athenians held Adonia, a yearly festival representing his death and resurrection, in midsummer.

Melqart, God of Tyre, King of the Underworld

Melqart, Son of Baal (or El, Ruler of the Universe), God of Tyre, King of the Underworld, Protector of the Universe symbolized the annual cycle of vegetation and was associated with the female deity Astarte in her role as the maternal goddess. Also, he was considered the Heracles or Hercules of the Tyrians though he came from a more distant past than the Greek Heracles/Hercules.

Melqart was also known as Eshmun by the Sidonians. The Greeks equated Melqart with Heracles who was held to be the mythical founder of the Macedonian dynasty. Melqart was also known by other names -- like other Phoenician gods and goddesses. He was known as Baal- Adon- Eshmun- Melqart and also as Thasian Heracles because he was worshipped on the island of Thasos. Also, a Temple of Melqart is known to have been on the island of Sancti Petri near Cadiz.

Many historians such as Josephus Flavius refer to Melqart and Heracles interchangeably. Also, Herodutus, Theophrastus (Arsistotle's pupil) and Horace the Roman wrote about Melqart's Temple in Tyre. It had two pillars one of pure gold and the other of emeralds which shone brilliantly at night. Melqart made Tyre a Phoenician Jerusalem whose kings minted Tyrians coins with Melqart riding on the Phoenician Hippocampus (seahorse/monster). This unique position of Tyre in Phoenician mythology survived into the Christian Era as an amazingly modern city. The remains of the Temple of Eshmun (Sidon's Melqart) have been found in Sidon.

The fame and name of Melqart travelled to the far corners of the Phoenician colonies around the Mediterranean and the other dominions and territories where the Phoenicians settled. The famous Pillars of Hercules of Gibraltar were actually known as the Pillars of Melqart but as time went by and the two gods became combined into one, the Pillars became those of Heracles or Hercules.

Tanit, Chief Goddess of Carthage

Tanit, also spelled TINITH, TINNIT, or TINT, chief goddess of Carthage, equivalent of Astarte. Although she seems to have had some connection with the heavens, she was also a mother goddess, and fertility symbols often accompany representations of her. She was probably the consort of Baal Hammon (or Amon), the chief god of Carthage, and was often given the attribute "face of Baal." Although Tanit did not appear at Carthage before the 5th century BC, she soon eclipsed the more established cult of Baal Hammon and, in the Carthaginian area at least, was frequently listed before him on the monuments. In the worship of Tanit and Baal Hammon, children, probably firstborn, were sacrificed. Ample evidence of the practice has been found west of Carthage in the precinct of Tanit, where a tofet (a sanctuary for the sacrifice of children) was discovered. Tanit was also worshiped on Malta, Sardinia, and in Spain.

The Sign of Tanit, Interpretations of a symbol
by Pierre Cintas

The greatest triumph of the human intellect probably lies in the opening up of unlimited possibilities for the expression of abstract concepts in concrete form. This was achieved and brought to fruition in the East, where the Phoenicians discerned, through analysis, that a concept as abstract as thought expressed in the spoken word could ultimately be broken down into various elements. It could then be reconstituted and fixed by putting the elements together again, by virtue of the concrete images conveyed by written characters.

The reverberation of this triumphant achievement echoed as far as Carthage, where the priests took the lead over the scribes in producing the symbol erroneously known to us as the "sign of Tanit". That sign, which an entire civilisation, abandoning its earthly preoccupations, used for more than a thousand years to express its hopes and beliefs.

It appears that the primitive form of this sign was a trapezium closed by a horizontal line at the top and surmounted in the middle by a circle. The horizontal arm was often terminated either by two short upright lines at right angles to it or by hooks. In the course of time the trapezium often became an isosceles triangle.

A stele from the sanctuary at Carthage bears an incised representation of the silhouette of a priest praying with up-raised arms and wearing a long robe on which the sign is inscribed1. This suggests that the sign is a diagrammatic representation of the man who wears it. E. Ronan had already expressed his opposition to this theory that the sign symbolised the votary2 when P. Berger returned to the first explanation3, adding the hypothesis that the sign was also a conical image of the deity, the outline of the sacred cone4.

Meanwhile, Clermont-Ganneau confined himself to stating that it was now the accepted custom to call this figure the "sign of Tanit", without trying to explain what it represented5. E. Babelon saw it as the symbol of the Punic trinity which, we should add, never actually existed, or perhaps a degenerate representation of the human form6.

Basing his theory on the Phoenician representations of Astarte as Isis Hathor, quoted by Clermont-Ganneau7, E. Vassel interpreted the figure as a diagram of the conical stone of Astarte crowned, by assimilation with Hathor, with the solar disc between two cow's horns, frequently replaced by the horns of the "crescent moon"8. Father Lagrange saw it as the sacred stone itself9 and R.P. Ronzevalle as an idealised version of the Egyptian ankh, the sign of life10.

Finally, S. Gsell attempted to discover the origin of the symbol11. While dismissing this last explanation, along with Goblet d'Alviella's suggestion -- the sign arose from the fusion of representations of the sacred stone and the Egyptian handled cross -- he concluded that it must be regarded as a compound of two basic elements: the cult, represented by the altar at the bottom, and the deity, represented by a heavenly body at the top12.

More than twenty years have passed since I first promised myself that one day I would come back to the problem of the formation of this sign13, and I am still stopped by the same problem, since in the meantime the only conclusion I have formed is that none of the explanations offered so far is correct because none of them is complete. The reason is this : throughout the whole Punic period the sign performs the function of a sort of pentagram, the number of elements of which is not limited to five; i.e., as a true diagram, a single entity comprising countless different elements. It is therefore, and it always will be, impossible to disentangle the fundamental element, that which was originally chosen to serve as a base for all the others, for we do not know the exact date when this or that element was assimilated into the design. A glance over the catalogue of its variations leaves no doubt that the details of the sign were elaborated or pared down at random over the course of the years.

Only one fact is clear. From its first appearance the symbol was complete, not only comprising all the allusions the scholars have deduced, all of which are well-grounded, but above all permitting the further inclusion in its design of the whole ecumenical repertoire of representational imagery. The oldest versions of the -- sign of Tanit" known to me are already fully developed, whether they are engraved on stone or in the form of the amulets which I had the occasion to discover in urns dating to the end of the sixth century, or more probably the beginning of the fifth, in the sanctuary at Carthage.

Certainly the explanations given below14 for the "baetylic", or "bottle", signs, which embody other symbolic concepts, are perfectly acceptable. It will nevertheless be agreed that these signs too are diagrammatic forms of numerous caricatures, such as Osiris with folded arms, in the sanctuaries, or the universally diversified sex symbols, the lozenge-shaped or triangular forms of which have symbolised the female from prehistoric times onwards, on vases or many other objects.

"Urged by the involuntary tendency towards simplification, the human intellect spontaneously and unceasingly combines the most disparate elements to produce a sort of 'resultant' "15. And, in connection with the components of the "sign of Tanit", I have said elsewhere that "the cast of mind which tries to combat the greatest number of evils simultaneously by pitting against them an array of different protective powers, sometimes highly complex, is at the heart of particular practice"16. I still hold to this opinion.

It is impossible to support the view that a number of the symbols erroneously called the "sign of Tanit" do not incorporate the ankh sign, which was known to the Carthaginians at that time. it cannot be positively stated that the sign does not represent a votary, when a cippus which I excavated myself, dating back at least to the fifth century B.C., proves the contrary. It cannot be denied that several versions of the symbol, probably by association with the knot of Isis's girdle, are simply female fertility symbols

The lower half of the symbol, with its lateral appendages representing incense-burners, unquestionably represents an altar, since this is proved by an altar-cippus of fifth century date from the sanctuary, although it has a baetylic column on top instead of a disc. It cannot be argued that the astral baetyl, which probably never had anything to do with the female symbol, is not interchangeable with the baetylic column. Another altar-cippus of similar shape and date actually shows the symbol itself with an astral baetyl on top. Carved in detail on the stone (unlike some examples, which are finished with little more than the bare outline of a simple contour), this specimen is one of the richest, if not the earliest, sources of information for an enquiry into the components of the "sign of Tanit". On the slab of one altar a whole temple is shown. The incense-burners on each side are in this case the fire-altars in 7 front of the entrance, just as they appear on another cippus from the sanctuary which, precisely, reproduces a temple, and on some of the stelae from Sousse. In other cases they take the form of acroteria at the ends, thus forming a horned altar. The steps on the back are those of the stair by which the image of the deity, in the baetylic form of a bottle, a column or a disc, is approached. Finally, to call this symbol the "sign of Tanit" is a fundamental error. In the sanctuary at Constantine, which, judging by the number of votive inscriptions, was dedicated to Baal Addir and Baal Hammon, the symbol appears just as frequently. It is regularly seen on stelae dedicated to these gods alone, and on the other hand is frequently absent from stelae happening to invoke Tanit. The sanctuary at Carthage itself, according to indisputable epigraphic evidence, was originally dedicated to Baal Hammon. At the top of one of the earliest examples of the famous sign17 the written word "Baal" is actually engraved on the stone instead of the astral disc. It was not until the fifth century that Tanit, who appears to be the result of an ill-defined Punic syncretism, infiltrated (timidly at first) into the sanctuary, and succeeded in a remarkably short time in asserting her own undisputed supremacy there -- a development which was not apparent anywhere else. In defense of those who are responsible for naming this diagram the "sign of Tanit", it must be admitted that this intrusion occurred at a time when a parallel syncretism was clearly taking place in the realm of symbolic imagery.


    1. C.I.S., 3784.
    2. C.I.S. 1, p. 281.
    3. Comptes Rendus de l'Acad., 1909, P. 999.
    4. Rech. sur les Ant. de I'Afr. du Nord, 1890, p. 66, 88.
    5. Rev. d'Archéo. Orient. VIII, p. 32.
    6. Grande Encyclop., article : "Carthage", Vol. IX, p. 606 and "Carthage" in the 1896 edition, p. 70.
    7. Arch. des Missions, 3rd series, Vol. Xl, p. 232ff.
    8. Rev. Archéol., 1921, XIII, p. 82, Fig. 5.
    9. Etudes, 2nd edn., p. 203.
    10. Notes et études d'Archéol. or., part Ill, p. 82.
    11. Hist. Anc. de I'Afr. du Nord, IV, p. 383ff.
    12. Loc. cit., p. 387.
    13. Sanctuaire de Sousse, p. 59 and note 136.
    14. Article by A.M. Bisi, pp. 119-122.
    15. Sanctuaire de Sousse, p. 59. 16) Amulettes, p. 103. 17) C.I.S., 435.

Representations of Baal Hammon, Chief God of Carthage
by Louis Foucher
Professor at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Tours

We are comparatively ill informed about the deities worshipped by the early Phoenicians when they came from the East to set up trading posts, great and small, along the maritime highway which took them as far as Caries in Spain. These sailors and salesmen must primarily have invoked the gods who could ensure them a safe voyage, permitting them to defy storms or to evade rocks, and to gain hospitable havens which would shelter them alike from the hostility of nature and of man. Such, doubtless, was the substance of the prayers they addressed to the god Resheph, whose statuette was recovered from the sea near Selinunte in 1961. The foundation of Carthage at the end of the ninth century B.C. -- for we may retain the traditional date -- encouraged the more permanent establishment in the Western Mediterranean of members of the Phoenician pantheon. No longer did merchants set up temporary trading posts, many of them going back to spend their old age in Tyre, where they had left their families. Now there was an aristocracy which had departed from the mother city never to return, trying to embed their homes and beliefs permanently in the colonies. For several centuries, however, the new capital's sphere of influence remained very restricted, and under the aegis of the Magonid dynasty the Carthaginians continued to look almost entirely seaward for the increase of their wealth.

The fifth century B.C. marked a political, economic and social revolution which also had repercussions on religion. While still Pursuing their maritime activities, the aristocrats sought to conquer neighbouring territories, to extend their influence further west, to augment the crop of the wide plains by perfecting new methods of cultivation. No longer now did they restrict themselves to maritime commerce; they also turned their attention to agriculture. In the other cities, Utica and Hadrumetum, which were even older than Carthage, the same phenomenon occurred: the possession of land and a more reasoned capital investment enriched a number of families. The Phoenicians colonies now tended to allot a more limited role to the secondary deities of the pantheon. They did this in order to give a wider, almost exclusive predominance to two great celestial divinities, Baal Hammon and Tanit, representing the sun and the moon. They fertilise the soil and renew all the energies of the city. Doubtless very young infants were already being sacrificed to them, but now their votaries asked more from them than the warding off of disaster on a capricious and rock-filled sea. Prayers were for a regular rhythm of the seasons, particularly rain, to bring abundant harvests of corn, olives and fruit, and productive flocks. Baal Hammon was still a celestial god, but he became also, or reverted to being a god of the earth -- at once a sky and solar deity and a productive and fertilising one.

Faithful to his Asiatic origins, however, Baal Hammon remained exacting, and the tophets at Carthage, Hadrumetum and Cirta have revealed to their excavators an impressive quantity of offerings. After a certain time, at the beginning of the fourth century, the urns containing the bones of child-sacrifices, soon to be replaced by small animals, were accompanied by stelae bearing symbols of the deities. The majority, in fact, carries aniconic designs, anthropomorphic images of Baal Hammon being comparatively rare.

God Seated on a Throne in the Barque of Osiris

Pierre Cintas has drawn my attention to the bezel of a ring from Dermech (Carthage) dating at least to the sixth century B.C. and perhaps to the seventh (Ph. XLV). A solar disc in the left corner should be related to the boat supporting the god's throne. The beams of this boat are sketched at both ends and in the middle: it recalls both the boat of Osiris and the ancient eastern belief. It relates to after setting, the sun crossed the kingdom of the dead by boat, in order to reappear at dawn in the opposite quarter of the sky. Such an image thus asserts the universality of a god who rules at once in the sky, on earth, and under the earth. He is shown as a man of middle years, bearded and with a pointed tiara on his head, seated in an armchair with a high, curved back which enhances the majestic dignity of his pose. The armrests are crouching-sphinxes; their wings rising exactly level with his head. His right hand is lifted in blessing, while his left hand grasps a staff terminating in an indistinct object, a grain of corn or a pinecone? In front of him is a fire-altar. Can this be Baal Hammon? P. Cintas has reminded me that the tiara turns up on the back of the neck, a characteristic which often marks Baal Shaman. If the same figure was used for Baal Hammon, we must admit that, at the end of the sixth century or in the fifth, the god found his features in lineaments borrowed from other Phoenician deities.

Scene Showing the Cult of Baal Hammon in the Sanctuary of Hadrumetum

A representation of Baal Hammon was discovered in the sanctuary at Hadrumetum excavated in 1946-47 by P. Cintas. It is on a stele from the second level, where offerings were deposited from the end of the fifth century to the beginning of the third. As with most of its neighbours, the back of the stele is carefully shaped and finished with a bevel on the upper Portion. The decorated face shows a cult scene above an altar with an Egyptian gorge now obliterated. The holy place is the simplest of miniature temple facades, with two pilasters topped by a molded lintel. on which can be discerned the much worn design of a winged solar disc flanked by two uraei. This motif is framed by; a series of little slanting lines, which gradually take a curving path to the right. The right side of the temple is edged with cross-hatching, which can be paralleled in the trellising on tombs, or which is perhaps, in the convention of the stone-cutters, simply an indication of detail or decoration impossible to depict in full (Ph. 134).

At the entrance to the temple appear, a profile cult scene with two figures deriving from a type frequently used by Phoenician artists many instance, of which are found in the East. The votary wears a kind of bonnet with a drooping point at the back, and a long, ankle-length robe; his open right hand is raised level with his face in a gesture of prayer and submission. As P. Cintas has explained, the absence of a beard shows him to be a priest and not just an ordinary worshipper. The god is seated on a throne, the lofty back of which rises just above his head. Following a very common Phoenician tradition, numerous variations on which attest its popularity, the armrests comprise a pair of sphinxes.

As the design is in profile, the left-hand sphinx is hidden. The other sphinx is furnished with a wing, which rise, to a point behind it, in line with the back of the throne. The right hind foot is placed slightly forward and the left is hidden by the tail. The front feet are covered by the thick folds of a drapery held in place by bands which no doubt cross on the chest. The head of the sphinx is bare.

The god is seated firmly in the depths of the armchair; the body turned three-quarters to the right. He wears a long robe falling to his ankles. He is bearded and on his head is a high, pointed tiara with trading ribbons; his long, thick hair covers the back of his neck. His right hand is lifted Palm outwards in a gesture of benediction. In his left hand is a long staff ending in a large car of corn and rising to the height of the tiara: the disproportion between this attribute, and the figures is quite normal, and any parallels can be cited. Behind the god's right hand is an object engraved with perpendicular striations, in which I would be inclined to see a pine cone, a motif which, moreover, was regarded by the Phoenicians as prophylactic and appears among amulets. The attributes assembled in this deeply religious scene thus symbolise the celestial and solar nature of this Baal Hammon to whom the People offered such valuable sacrifices, as well as his fertilising and productive properties. In addition, the numerous parallels, which have been found in Phoenician artifacts, based on a similar scheme, from Ugarit to Sicily and from Africa to Spain confirm that. In spite of the vicissitude that befell this people, the western colonies maintained connections with their ancient mother-city, now enslaved.

The Gold Ring from Utica and the Statuette from the Siagu Sanctuary

The gold ring found by P. Cintas in a tomb in a necropolis at Utica, dating to the fifth century B.C. (Ph. XLIV), bears a very similar image of the same god engraved on an elliptical field. Partly from lack of space, but primarily because the basic function of a ring is to protect its wearer, the votary is not shown. Baal's throne is less upright than that of Sousse (Hadrumetum), with a lower back. The sphinx's tail is lifted, and its front feet are not concealed by drapery; there is no sign of two bands crossing on the chest; and upon the head of the sphinx is a kind of skullcap. The god's long robe is covered by lines intersecting at right angles. The gesture of the right hand is absolutely identical, and the left hand also holds a staff, ending in an ear of corn. The tiara is more conical, and is ribbed, with a padded top. The beard and hair are not so thick. In spite of these differences in detail, it is quite clear that the artist intended to produce a figure of Baal Hammon.

We might justly be surprised to find so few images of a god whose name appears with such frequency in stele inscriptions: apparently the People Preferred to depict him symbolically. However, we should remember that for fifth and fourth century Carthage, the evidence is far from being entirely available. Moreover, the excavators have noted various terracotta fragments, uncovered here and there, which may belong to statues of the same god; such statues must have been produced at Carthage in this period, doubtless under the influence of techniques developed in the Greek deities of Sicily. This art became well established, if we can judge from ornaments and a terracotta statuette from a necropolis. Now on show in the Museum at Carthage: this shows an almost identical figure and probably dates to the third century B.C. The destruction of the Punic capital in 146 had no effect on the religious beliefs of the Phoenician population already dispersed over the countryside, or those who reassembled after the catastrophe. Several finds indicate that Baal Hammon retained his adherents at least until the first, and sometimes as late as the second century of the Roman Empire. The most dramatic discovery was that of a little statue 0.40 m. high found in a Punic sanctuary at Cape Bell near Siagu, northeast of Bir Bell Rekba, in 1908, and published by A. Merlin (Ph. 131). We find practically the same elements. The back of the armchair ends at the level of the god's shoulders. The wings of the sphinxes do not rise so high, and their heads were covered with a pointed bonnet from which a fringe of formal curls escaped to frame around face.

The god wears a long tunic, the folds of which meet in a point on the axis of the chest. His right hand is raised, the open palm turned outwards, while the fingers of the left hand are closed upon a now vanished attribute; it cannot be a staff, as in the previous examples, since the forearm is resting on the knees. The face is quite different. The hair is shorter, with no hanging locks; the beard is less bushy, carefully cut, and less pointed; a fierce moustache curls about the corners of the mouth. The face, grave and serene, displays some Semitic characteristics. The headdress has changed: no longer a high tiara or a conical bonnet, but a polos-crown, the base of which encases the top of the head, while allowing curls of hair to escape out of the top. The constituents of this headdress, perhaps feathers set side by side, are scalloped at their upper edge. For the design of the head the artist seems to have been influenced by models based on Bryaxis's statue of Sarapis.

Among the quantities of terracotta statuettes from the cemeteries at Sousse (Hadrumetum) and EI Djem (Thysdrus), we continue to find the image of Baal Hammon with some variations, up to the beginning of the third century A.D. One of these is particularly interesting because the god, as on the tophet stele of at least 500 years earlier, appears in front of an altar flanked by columns supporting archaic capitals. In spite of the clumsy design and the worn molding, we can recognise the headdress as similar to that on the ring from Utica while the sphinxes' bonnets resemble those from Thinissut. The attribute is an axe. At EI Djem the headdress is a close parallel to that of the statue from the sanctuary it Siagu, but the hair is worn in much longer curls, as in the early examples. We should also mention the base of a Roman marble statue found at Thuburbo Majus, where we see a man draped in a long robe and seated between two sphinxes whose front feet are concealed by a drapery. While we must indeed admit the existence of variants, certain characteristics, and not always the same ones, endured over a very long period.

Persistence of the Image of Baal Hammon in the Tunisian Sahel

In the greater part of the Roman proconsular province, Baal Hammon was very soon assimilated to Saturn, who replaced him and enjoyed considerable prestige among the peoples of Africa particularly the smaller tribes. His strongly Romanised image is somewhat different from the Punic version. In Byzacium and certain nearby cities, by contrast, the Punic Baal seems to have survived much longer, as is attested by coins struck at Hadrumetum, as well as the statuettes previously mentioned. The coins date to the Augustan period, and give all idea of the problems which could affect the religious outlook of a city chiefly inhabited by Phoenician traders and farmers. In 146 these people broke away from Carthage and opted for Rome. Thereafter, a gathering of Roman citizens was established and strengthened in their midst, while families of diverse origins still continued sporadically to arrive from the eastern Mediterranean. Under the, aegis of Rome, the city sought to regain its political unity, and its gods tended to dissolve and merge into one another. As a harbour city, the patron god of Hadrumetum was Neptune, who should be equated, at least in part, with an ancient Punic sea deity. But the great sun god of tradition, who governed the sky and promoted the fertility of the fields and the productiveness of flocks, maintained his Prestige. The people continued to bring his offerings at the tophet until the end of the first century, and over the urns were placed stelae recalling baetyls and the young animals sacrificed. The recent settlers assimilated him not to Saturn, as elsewhere, but simply to the Sun. On several examples of coinage from 10-5 B.C. we see a bust of the sun god, young and beardless, sometimes accompanied by an object in which we can perhaps detect a trident, or more, likely a stem with three grains of corn. Whether he is shown frontally or in profile, his head is surrounded by rays. We may surely compare this image oil the Hadrumetum coins with fragments of terracotta statuettes found at Carthage by Merlin. Baal's throne still appears, but the god seated between the two sphinxes is beardless. Perhaps, then, at an unknown but fairly late period, an element in the Carthaginian population tried to assimilate Baal Hammon to the sun god Apollo.

Another coin from Hadrumetum, however, dating to 6-5 B.C. gives us the traditional image of the great god (Ph. 132). The obverse carries the portrait of the Proconsul Africanus Fabius Maximus, whose doings in the region are known from other sources. The reverse carries the bust of Baal Hammon. On his head is a high tiara in the shape of a truncated cone, with three rows of overlapping scales; beneath it is fixed a veil which covers the neck. Level with the shoulder a hand in blessing is sketched, and in front of the face, near the beard, are some confused marks that must, in my opinion, represent an ear of corn. Thus we see that the proconsuls, in accordance with circumstances and their civil political convictions, tried to conciliate the different sections of the population.

In the same way as the statuettes from the cemeteries, another product of officialdom attests the persistence of this religious image in the Tunisian Sahel (Ph 133). This is the reverse of an aureus of Clodius Albinos, Caesar to the Emperor Septimius Severus who sought to dispute the supreme power with that ruler, took the title of Augustus in 196, and was defeated and killed leading his followers at Lyon in 197. The Historia Augusta says that he was a native of Hadrumetum. The information provided by this source is very often unreliable but on this point the remarkable character of the coin-reverse allied to the previous examples adequately support the statement, and confirms that Baal Hammon in his traditional guise remained the chief god of Hadrumetum. The throne is shown in three-quarter view, which reveals the curve of the upper chair back. The visible sphinx is seen with its front feet on the same plan, while the back feet suggest an advancing movement already hinted at in other examples, but more noticeable here. The position of the hand raised palm outwards in blessing is the same as everywhere else; the left hand holds ears of corn that we may now legitimately restore when they are missing or the image is not clear. The tiara echoes that on the coins of Fabius Maximus' and the neck is apparently also covered by a veil worn under the headdress. In front of the god's armchair, but on a far smaller scale, is the figure of the worshipper; he lifts his hand towards the god he is invoking, but it is not clear whether or not he is wearing a headdress. It is ironic to reflect that, of all the images we have at present (new discoveries are always possible, since many Punic sites have not yet been explored) this coin from the very end of the second century A.D. bears the closest resemblance to the stele of the fourth century B.C. found in the tophet.

Interpretations of a Legend

The legend stamped on this coin has attracted numerous interpretations. Some people see in it not the name of the god but only the lavish fertility of the sun, which the inhabitants of the Empire then enjoyed. For others, SAECULO FRUGIFERO designates a god who could be 'that Baal imperfectly Romanised as Chronos, Time'. Merlin links this inscription with the name of the colony of Hadrumetum: Colonia Concordia Ulpia Trajana Angusto Frugifera Hadrumetina and believes that in the imperial period the actual name of the god was Saeculum Frugiferum. Since this legend appears on the coins of other emperors, it is better simply to regard it as an invocation not to a deity but to an entity endowed with divine power. It often occurs that an evocation of the eternal destiny of the Roman Empire and its beneficent rule over all the inhabitants of the orbis terrarum

If we do attribute the name of Saeculum Frugiferum to the god seated between two sphinxes, we must admit that we do not know under what appellation he was addressed by those who remained faithful to him up to the time of the Empire, and looked to him for their prosperity. On the other hand, can we be sure that all these images, so closely resembling one another, always represented the same god? Our knowledge of Punic religion and its ramifications still contains many gaps: for the present we must content ourselves with noting the variants which mark these examples, so separated in time, if not in geography. It is in any case likely that the Africans who 'reproduced this image in the second century A.D. had forgotten the implacability of Baal Hammon, who clamoured for human sacrifice at the tophet many centuries before.

Louis Foucher is a Doctor of Letter and was Curator of the Archaeological Museum at Sousse (Tunisia) from 1949 to 1965, during which period he was director of excavation in the Tunisian Sehel. In addition to excavating a very large number of Roman villas with magnificent mosaic floors, he investigated the cemeteries at Sousse (Hadrumetum), Lemta (Laptis Minor) and El Djem (Thysdrus). He was also able to identify many other Punic sites, exploration of which is likely to lead to fresh discoveries. The results of his work have appeared in numerous publications, culminating in a doctoral thesis entitled Hadrumetum. He now lectures in the Faculty of Letters and Humanities Tours.

Institutions and Practices

The temple, or the temple and palace together, were often raised and/or walled off in a separate precinct or acropolis. The temple was the "house" of the god--often so in both name and form. It was also a storehouse for the god's treasures and hence sometimes particularly thickly walled. The temple staff played a leading role in the life of the city.

In the early 3rd millennium the temples were built on the same plan as houses: a rectangle with the entrance on one of the long sides, with a small altar or a niche for the cult statue opposite the entrance. Sometimes there were benches around the three uninterrupted walls. An outer court contained the main altar, where the larger community could participate in worship. At the beginning of the 2nd millennium the house of the god was extended by the expansion of the niche into an additional room ("cella") and of the entrance into a porch--the form later used by the Phoenician architects of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. There were also outdoor shrines, such as the "high place" at Gezer (near modern Ramla, Israel) with its row of standing stones and monumental stone basin (and surviving charred animal remains). Over the centuries there was an increasing variety of forms at different sites. At particular sites, however, the plans of temples often remained virtually identical, even after previous superstructures had been destroyed.

Typical temple furniture included the cult statue, standing stones, bowls and their stands, altars, and benches around the walls. Hazor, in the Jordan Valley north of the Sea of Galilee, has yielded a 13th-century statue of a male deity on a bull-shaped base. In another temple a set of cultic objects, also from the 13th century, was found behind a stone slab: a seated male figure and a group of standing stones, the central one of which has engraved on it a vertical pair of arms with hands outstretched toward a disk and crescent.

The palace too might have a chapel. The palace at Mari, on the Euphrates in eastern Syria, housed a statue of a goddess holding a vase from which she dispensed flowing ("living") water; the water was channeled through the statue to the vase. Wall paintings in the palace depict the same image, as well as scenes of the king being presented to a god and making offerings to a god.

A common religious object, not confined to sacred places, is the "Astarte" figurine, depicting a nude woman, often with exaggerated breasts and genitalia, and sometimes holding a child. This was perhaps a fetish representing the mother goddess and used to stimulate conception, childbirth, or lactation.

The temple was staffed by cultic personnel (priests) under a "chief of priests," and by practitioners of the various other skills required by the functions of the temple. These included singers and other musicians, diviners, scribes, and other specialists, depending on the size of the temple. The temple staff was sustained by some of the sacrifices, by supplies from the estates of the temple or palace, or by direct contributions imposed on the surrounding population. Its essential religious function was the care of the cult statue, the offering of sacrifices, and the performance of other rituals for the welfare of god, monarch, and community.

Typically the monarch and sometimes other members of the royal family played a leading role in the most significant cultic acts and festivals. A king of Sidon refers to himself as "priest of Astarte." One text from a town near Ugarit concerns a sacrifice by the queen.

In tombs formed from subterranean caves beneath the western palace of Ebla during the second quarter of the 2nd millennium, skeletal remains and treasures suggest a cult of deceased monarchs. From Mari and Ugarit researchers have learned of a significant cult of former rulers (called "Healers" at Ugarit)--from putative or mythical figures to the most recently deceased--who supported the reigning monarch with divine blessings. The monarch's expectations of life after death are expressed in an inscription on an 8th-century monumental effigy of the god Hadad from Zincirli (ancient Sam`al) in south-central Turkey. King Panammu directs that his future heir, when making sacrifice to Hadad, pray that Panammu's soul may eat and drink with the god. Phoenician kings of Sidon later refer to a resting place with the Healers, and the same word is used by the Israelites to refer to all the dead.

People attempted to influence the gods through animal sacrifices, petitions, and vows (promises of gifts contingent on the deity's response to a request for help). Sacrifice was central to the cult. Domestic animals were the main victims--cattle, sheep, and goats--and also birds. There is clear evidence for two types of sacrifice: simple gifts and whole burned offerings. There also is scattered evidence of human sacrifice, probably limited to situations of unusual extremity (contrast the account of the sacrifice of his eldest son by the king of Moab in 2 Kings 3:26-27 with the more abundant evidence of child sacrifice from Carthage and other Phoenician colonies in the west.)

The will of the gods was discovered in various ways. Use of the Mesopotamian technique of liver divination (hepatoscopy) is evidenced by the discovery of clay liver models (sometimes inscribed with omens) at such sites as Ugarit and Hazor, as well as by abundant written testimony at sites closer to Mesopotamia, such as Mari. Ugarit also had a list of omens based on abnormal births. King Idrimi of Alalakh refers to divining by observation of the flight of released birds.

The correspondence from Mari abundantly testifies to the institution of prophecy--spontaneous pronouncements by cult personnel and occasionally others, delivering messages from the deity. By this means the deity disclosed his or her wishes or gave divine warnings or promises to the king. The Aramaean king Zakir records that he appealed to his god in desperation during a siege and that the god answered him through prophets with promises of deliverance--obviously fulfilled, since the king makes so much of this in his inscription. According to the Egyptian "Report of Wen-Amun," a young man of Byblos went into a trance and resolved a diplomatic deadlock by announcing that the Egyptian envoy whom the local king had refused to see had indeed been sent by the Egyptian god Amun. Biblical narratives portray similar prophetic phenomena in Israel. The gods also revealed themselves through dreams, which again were carefully reported to the monarch by his officers at Mari.

According to later classical sources a central focus of Syrian religion was the rituals surrounding the myth of the dying god. The myth, according to these sources, variously draws on other Middle Eastern or Egyptian traditions but essentially tells of the deity's death and subsequent sojourn in the underworld and of an accommodation reached between the queen of the underworld and the goddess associated with the god that allows him to return to earth for six months of the year. Associated rituals include the sacrifice of a male pig, mourning for the dead god in a funeral procession, cultivating "gardens" in small pots and baskets, and a threshing rite.

Religious Symbolism, Punic Stelae
by Anna Maria Bisi, Inspector for the Near East at the Palermo Superintendance of Antiquities

Cippi and stelae of limestone are characteristic monuments of Punic art and religion, and are found throughout the western Phoenician world in unbroken continuity, both historically and geographically. The majority was set up over urns containing the ashes of human sacrifices, which had been placed within open-air sanctuaries. To this day such sanctuaries constitute our most striking relic of the Punic civilisation. Archaeologists conventionally refer to them under the Biblical name of tophets (1).

These votive monuments appeared early in the sixth century B.C. in the various parts of the Mediterranean colonised by the Phoenicians (2). They continued in use until after the destruction of Carthage, and persisted in belated examples in North Africa itself, Sardinia and Sicily to the height of the Imperial Roman period,

Since numerous antecedents of their typology and ornamental repertoire occur in the art of Canaan and Ugarit in the second millennium B.C. and that of Phoenicia in the first millennium (3), we may justifiably conclude that these earlier monuments passed on one of their leading characteristics to the tophets of the Punic west. A good example of such cult centres is furnished by the tophet of Salammbo at Carthage, near the city's ancient ports. A space open to the sky contains stelae erected by the earliest inhabitants of Carthage above the urns containing the ashes of their children who had 'passed through Molk', i.e. who had been sacrificed in the flaming pyre of the great god Baal Hammon and his consort Astarte-Tanit.

Today ivy (4) climbs among the cippi of rough stone and the urns containing the charred bones of children immolated in a rite of regeneration which probably originated from a very early form of sun-worship practiced throughout the Mediterranean region (5). We must discount the prejudices aroused in us by a modern outlook. The romantic suggestions of people such as Flaubert, who, even before the tophet at Cartilage lied been excavated, had already drawn on the horrifying descriptions of child sacrifices in Diodorus for some of the most sensational passages in his novel Salammbo. If we are indeed able to ignore all the emotions, which the sight of one of these bloodthirsty urnfields can arouse, the cippi and stelae found there could make an important contribution to our knowledge of the history of the Carthaginian civilisation. History of its religion in the very early period -- for which documentary evidence and historical commentaries are partially or wholly lacking and the, history of the various influences which, from the city's foundation, affected its artistic output.

Representations of divinities and abstract designs

Let us first consider the religious side. The cippi from the oldest levels of the tophet are in the form of small Egyptianising aedicules in an architectural frame and bear both aniconic images and anthropomorphic representations. The first group are the more numerous; these seem to point to the concept of an impersonal and disembodied deity -- worshipped rather in baetylic symbols than in human forms either directly delineated or derived from a cult image -- a concept underlying many Semitic religions. However, the second group, with their anthropomorphic decoration, is no less important.

In other areas of Punic colonisation, the most archaic cippi bear male and female images of a definite typological origin (almost invariably Egyptian or Cypriot) (Ph. 127). Their attitudes are an important indication of their functions and nature (as in the stelae of Motya and Sardinia we see on one-hand representations of votaries and on the other what are unquestionably images of gods). In Carthage, by contrast, the cippi have no more than crude, schematic male silhouettes with Egyptian headdresses, generally viewed frontally. In a single example a female figure appears with her arms folded to support her breasts (6) following an iconographic theme of very early Mesopotamian origin which is particularly prevalent and seen in numerous variants in Iron Age Cypriot contexts. We should note that in some instances the male figure is placed on a pedestal within an Egyptianising niche -- a motif more common on the stelae of Sulcis and Nora. We have here a motif of Nilotic origin reproduced in Phoenician religious scenes, in which tile deity is shown on a higher level than his faithful adherents do. Hence we may safely conclude that even the oldest cippi at Carthage (like those of Motya and Sardinia) bear images of gods.

The situation is complicated, however, by the fact that if the male figures represent Baal Hammon and the female ones Astarte (Tanit and the aniconic emblem conventionally termed 'the sign of Tanit', as we know, appear only from the end of the fifth or early in the fourth century B.C. probably following a more abstract and speculative religious trend among the priestly hierarchy at Carthage), it is hard to understand the extreme rarity of portrayals of the head of the pantheon on the Carthaginian cippi. Whereas the few sixth century inscriptions on the tophet cippi mention him continually (and him alone) as the being in whose honour the rite of Molk (7) was performed, portrayals of his consort Astarte appear by the dozen on Sardinian and Silician ex-votos. Incidentally, it is also interesting to observe that Baal Hammon in his Eastern Phoenician form -- spear in hand, wearing a high tiara, his hair curling up on his neck -- has not yet made his appearance at Carthage, at a time we have already met him on stelae at Sulcis and Motya (8). This however, is an argumentum ex silentio, since a large part of the Salammbo tophet still awaits excavation.

Moreover, except for a few rare instances of a sphinx of armchair Greek type on stelae of Hellenistic date, monster representations such as human-headed birds (harpies ? winged images of the dead, i.e. the child consecrated to Molk, who, by undergoing the dreadful sacrifice, acquired a kind of supernatural hero-power ?) are absent from the Carthaginian repertoire, although an example is seen in the niche of a stele from Motya (Ph. 126).

Interpretations of the symbols

As was stated earlier, aniconic design, are found in considerable quantity on the tophet cippi -- sufficient for some scholars to have propounded the view, outdated, that Punic religion evolved from the aniconic to the representational. Except for the 'sign of Tanit', which seems to be a product of development, the abstract images can be classified into three basic types. each with several variants: the baetyl, the 'lozenge', and the bottle idol' (Ph. 122, 124, 128, 129),

The baetyl, the sides of which may be straight or sometimes slanting sharply inwards at the top, appears by itself or grouped in twos or threes, rising from a rectangular base with plain mouldings or from a trapezoidal altar with Egyptian gorge. It obviously represents the pillar or phallic symbol which, from the Canaanite masseboths to the black Mecca-stone of the Bedouin Arabs on the eve of Islam (i.e. the Ka'aba stone), symbolised for all Semitic religions the immanent power and fecundity of God.

It is harder to establish the origin and meaning of the lozenge, which sometimes assumes a hexagonal shape. Patroni, in connection with his findings from stelae of Nora, regarded it as representing female pudenda, following a well-known passage in Herodotus (Hist. II, 106). However, if we consider the presence of a lozenge between two baetyls on an archaic cippus at Carthage (Ph. 126), it is more likely that they all represent sacred stones set up in both sanctuary and tophet to embody the presence of the deity. We also recall the standing-stones that gave the Obelisk Temple at Byblos its name, or the baetylic image from the Temple of Dagon at Ugarit.

A recent discovery seems to support this second interpretation: in the sanctuary excavated within the walls of the Punic fortress at Monte Sirai in Sardinia, a large, unpolished stone has been found; its almost hexagons outline closely resembles the likely shape on the Carthaginian stelae. Moreover, several stelae collected by Whitaker at the beginning of this Century from the tophet at Motya bear the same design.

Even more uncertainty surrounds another symbol from Carthaginian sites the so-called 'bottle-idol'. Madame Hours-Miédan regards it as a stylised version of a very early fiddle-idol of the Neolithic Cycladic type. Madame C. Picard believes it to be an aniconic image used to represent Greek deities up to the Hellenistic Period. Neither hypothesis seems convincing, first because of the time-lag between the supposed Aegean models and their Punic imitations, and secondly because the presence of the 'bottle' on a stele at Ecdippa (Aczib) in Phoenicia renders the theory of a Creek source untenable. In all probability we are here dealing with a baetylic image, or better still, a representation of the actual urns containing the sacrificial ashes (indeed, we can observe a late development in accordance with the latter view on the stelae of the tophet at Sousse, where unmistakable vases appear, grouped in threes or in several sets of three), or better again (and this is by far the most likely explanation), the portrayal of the actual child turned hero after passing through Molk. In fact, it is only if we accept this last theory that we can explain two most curious characteristics of the 'bottle-idol': first the cross motif (known as 'braces') (Ph. 122), which represents the sacrificial victim's arms folded on its chest; and secondly the human features (nose, ears, eyes) on the 'bottle' on some Carthaginian stelae of Hellenistic date. I myself am inclined to think that the bottle image, in addition to being a strongly stylised representation of the heroised dead, was also influenced by the mummified form of the Egyptian Osiris, in which the arms are likewise folded on the chest, displaying in the royal insignia. In this we can see an allusion to the after-life of the dead in divine semblance which the Punic culture burrowed, the better to symbolise by a subtle yet most logical transference, the heroised victim of Molk.

The strong influence of Egyptian beliefs on the archaic Punic religion is moreover paralleled by a similar influence, also emanating from Pharaonic Egypt, in the field of the arts. Uraei, winged solar discs, Horus-eyes, Anubis, Sekhmet, Thoth, Bes, the whole pantheon of gods, demigods, monsters and demons treated by the fertile Egyptian imagination are readily found in the products of the minor arts (amulets, amulet-étuis, necklaces, pendants. medallions, sacred razors) which form a large part of the grave-goods in the earliest Carthaginian tombs. If we further remember that several centuries previously the Eastern Phoenicians had already borrowed a number of elements from Egyptian religious symbolism and architecture (connections between Byblos and Egypt go back to the beginning of the Old Kingdom, if not to the Protohistoric period), and the Phoenicians of the first millennium in Tyre, Sidon, Aradus and Marathus (Amrit) had followed suit, it is in no way surprising to find that the earliest stone art of the Punic world grew up in the shadow of Egyptian art and bears its imprint.

The cippi from the tophet: forms and structures

According to their structure, we can divide the cippi from the oldest levels of the tophet at Carthage into two main categories. On one hand we have those known as throne-cippi (Ph. 123 and 125), imitations of the thrones in the sanctuaries of the Phoenician mother city, which were regarded as props for the deity. On the other hand we have authentic little Egyptian naiskoi (Ph. 124 and 129), made from a solid block and originally intended to be viewed from all sides, but on which, in the course of time, the decoration became restricted to the principal face alone. Further, beneath a high architrave with a hollow-moulded Egyptian cornice, projecting torus and fringes of uraei supporting discs and winged solar discs, and sometimes set on a pedestal of varying height. The uprights of the cella are left undecorated, unlike those on Phoenician examples, and within the cella we see the images discussed earlier: aniconic symbols or male and female figures representing the heroised dead or, more likely, the deity, at least when they are shown on a pedestal accompanied by some typical attribute (spear, tiara, etc.). The throne-cippi (Ph. 123) sometimes have a baetyl on the seat, but often the space between the arm-rests is left unoccupied (Ph. 125), the better to express the disembodied immanence of the deity. The armrests themselves may terminate in pairs of incense-burners upon trapezoidal pillars with an Egyptian gorge; the steps that serve to link the two armrests have already appeared on Egyptian naiskoi of the second millennium.

The foregoing discussion might lead us to think that all the Salammbo cippi derive from one or other of these two basic types. But the facts are more complicated. Each type embraces several variants, chiefly due to the diverse combinations of architectural elements in the architrave, and moreover each advances towards a form of stele of more and more two-dimensional construction, i.e. with the face executed in relief which becomes ever shallower and more broken up, while the back and sides are left rough. Meanwhile a typological development provides a valuable indication of chronology. This is the appearance of non-Egyptian elements (bands of ovoids of Greek inspiration, leafy or voluted capitals of the type designated 'proto-Aeolic', originating in Phoenicia or Cyprus) upon monuments that began as rigidly Nilotic structures. However, this phenomenon is more noticeable in other regions under Punic influence (Sardinia, Sicily) than at Carthage, where such hybrid motifs arrive a little later and can be identified only on narrow, elongated stelae, sometimes carved in handsome white marble, in the Hellenistic period (Ph. 122). The Aeolic and Ionic columns which appear in this context, the elaborate, pseudo-architectural frames -- deeply engraved but no longer in relief, the cornices scolled or crowned with tufts of acanthus and palmettes, all derive, as Madame C. Picard has recently established (9), from similar botanical cornpositions found on Italiot vases, particularly those of Apulia, which show scenes beyond the grave.

Fidelity to the Egyptianising form of cippus persisted in Carthage until the city came under Greek influence. Elsewhere in those Punic territories least under the political and cultural sway of mother Carthage, the Egyptianising typology continued into the third or second century B.C. This is seen on the stelae with Egyptian architraves surmounted by Aeolic capitals which come from the Sulcian colony of Monte Sirai in Sardinia. Or, if we restrict ourselves to the Punic territories on the African mainland, on some stelae from the tophet of Hadrumetum (modern Sousse), the architectural frames of which contain a remarkable hybrid mixture of fringes of uraei, winged solar discs, fluted Ionic columns and pediments with acroteria in the form of eagles with outspread wings, of almost Classical type.

Since, in spite of their many variations in detail, the construction of Egyptianising cippi at Carthage and in the other Punic territories is identical, we may assume on the one hand that they were modelled on a single type (i.e. the Egyptian noiskoi already mentioned), and on the other hand that they were disseminated from a single centre, Carthage, whence this particular typology extended to other Phoenician colonies in the west. In addition, the appearance of the tophets as cult centres characterised by the association of stelae and funerary urns -- an association which seems to have had no predecessors in the Phoenician places of sacrifice -- is apparently of western, and peculiarly Carthaginian, origin. Thus the votive cippi would have spread from seventh/sixth-century Carthage to Sardinia and Sicily at the same time as their tophets were set up: and these, according to our current knowledge, do not seem to arise earlier than the beginning of the sixth century B.C. -- at least in the regular form we are considering here, viz. fields of urns distinguished by cippi and stelae placed above the receptacles containing the charred bones of the victims.

The evolution of the religious beliefs

At Carthage the Egyptianising cippi vanish abruptly, as has already been indicated, at the end of the fifth century. The stele with an architrave and hollow and projecting mouldings is no longer used in the fourth century. It is replaced by a stele made of a thin slab of stone with it triangular top, often ornamented with a true pediment flanked by lateral acroteria. At the same time the ornamental repertoire changes entirely. We see few or no instances of symbols such as baetyls or the bottle: instead new designs appear, chief of which is the sign of Tanit (Ph. 130). The explanation of this phenomenon (which is not, of course, simply a change in the style or decoration, but on the contrary the outcome of far deeper religious and social preoccupations) lies in the ever increasing influence of Greece, which was particularly strong after the fourth century, affecting both the typology and the bulk of the stelae imagery.

Obviously such a simplified hypothesis does not provide an entirely satisfactory solution of the problem. It is true that Carthaginian stelae of the Hellenistic period bear human figures in the tradition of Scopas and Praxiteles, where all the evidence points to a Greek model -- as is also the case with acanthus branches, Ionic columns, Dionysiac emblems such as cistae and craters, and a few rare religious or cultural images: the head of Hermes, ithyphallic satyrs, etc. (10). However, it is equally true that there appeared in Carthage at the same period, and for the first time, other emblems and representations of oriental origin, and quite unconnected with Creek models. Such, for instance, are the open hand of the god, the 'temple boy' and the bull's head on a blazing horned altar which a priest is approaching to perform the sacrifice.

With regard to the caduceus and the sign of Tanit, taken respectively as evidence of the introduction of the cults of Hermes and Tanit at Carthage, they are susceptible of a totally different interpretation. The former, in fact, is probably a schematic form of thymiaterion of Phoenician type, with superimposed discs which are the attribute of Baal Hammon (11). The latter seems to be, applicable to both god and goddess, and is compounded of elements true nature, is still obscure, although it must surely be connected with a form of sun worship (symbolised by the disc placed on a triangular support).

In conclusion, the history of the Egyptianising votive cippus, in the two centuries during which it is found in the tophet at Carthage, is indissolubly linked to the religious development which conditioned alike its adoption and its dissemination.

The adoption of this type of Egyptianising ex-voto probably followed on the establishment of a set ritual centering on the burning of victims to Baal Hammon and the erection of monumental temples inspired by models in the Phoenician mother. Clearly the ex-votos of the tophets reproduced in miniature the form of the Punic cult buildings, today almost entirely lost.

The disappearance of the cippi at the end of the fifth century is the reflection, in Carthage at least, of a fundamental change in the stability of the Punic civilisation, which was until then faithful to its ancient Semitic traditions. This change must not be underestimated, but we should also beware of exaggerating it into hellenisation on the strength of a few concessions to Classical taste in the decorative repertoire of the tophet stelae when it springs rather from the creation of an outstandingly abstract symbolism, largely based on a Phoenico-Cypriot heritage. It reveals an outlook turning back to the attitudes of antiquity. In conjunction with the changed typology of the tophet ex-votos which we can recognise as being of later date, in a wider ethico-cultural environment, this change ultimately results from the appearance of Tanit as head of the Carthaginian pantheon, although the origins and nature of this goddess still present unsolved problems, just like the religious emblem which seems connected with her, and which is conventially given her name.

After obtaining her doctorate in classical archaeology at the University of Rome, Dr. Anna Maria BISI specialized in oriental archaeology under the direction of Prof. Sabatino Moscoti, Inspector for the Near East at the Superintendence of Antiquities in Palermo, she has participated in numerous expeditions to the principal Punic sites in Sicily and the Near East. Dr. Bisi is the author of two books, Punic Stelae (Rome, 1967) and Kypriaka (Rome, 1966), which discusses the Cypriots antecedents of Punic civilisation


  1. The most recent bibliography is listed in: A, M. Bisi, Le stele puniche (= Studi Semitic, XXVII, Rome 1967. See also: A. Ciasca et al., Mozia-III and Mozia-IV, Rome 1967 and 1968; C. Picard, 'Thèmes hellénistiques sur les stèlae de Carthage', Antiquités Africaines, I, 1967, pp. 9-30; e il problema dell' influenza semitica nella religione e nell'arte della Sicilia Occidentale', Karthago, XIV, 1968, pp. 227-234.
  2. For the sixth and much of the fifth century B.C. we should, to be strictly accurate speak of cippi instead of stelae; in the exact meaning of the term, 'stelae' refers to narrow, elongated monuments with a single face, topped by a triangle or by acroteria, which appeared at Carthage in the fifth century and continued in use to 146 B.C.
  3. A. M. Bisi, Le stele puniche, loc. cit., pp. 23-48.
  4. Editorial note: suitable vegetation had been planted to mask the supporting walls erected at the edges of the excavation when it was abandoned. The site has since become completely over-grown.
  5. G. Garbini, 'Maschere puniche', Anali dell'Istiuto Universitario Orientalle di Napoli, XVIII, 1968, pp. 319-330.
  6. A. M. Bisi, Le stele puniche, loc. cit., pp. 59-65.
  7. J. Ferron, 'Inscription punique archaïque à Carthage', Mélanges de Carthage, Paris, 1964-1965, pp. 55-64.
  8. A. M. Bisi, Le stele puniche, loc. cit., pp. 172-173; Mozia-III, loc, cit Pl. XLI, pp. 175 and 179; S. Moscati, 'Iconografie fenicie a Mozia', Rivista degli Studi Orientali, XLII, 1967, pp. 61-64, PL. I. 1-2.
  9. C. Picard, Antiquités Africaines, I, loc. cit., pp. 9-18.
  10. These motifs of Hellenistic origin are illustrated and discussed in M. Hours-Miédan, Les représentations figurées sur les stèles de Carthage', Cahiers de Byrsa, I, 1051, Pls. I-XXXIX.
  11. Moreover, we cannot exclude the fact that a confusion could have arisen with the Greek caduceus, known and correctly represented at Carthage, for example on a stele in the National Museum at Carthage; cf. A. M. Bisi 'Il caduceo nel mondo punico. Nota ad una stela cartaginese inedita', Biblos-Press, VI, 1965, pp. 1-6.

Canaanite Pantheon
    • ADON: (Adonis) The god of youth, beauty and regeneration. His death happens around the love affair between him and the goddess Ashtarte which another god envied. He, in the form of a wild boar, attacks and kills Adonis and where his blood fell there grows red poppies every year. However, as Ashtarte weaps for his loss, she promises to bring him back to life every spring.
    • AKLM: Creatures who attacked Baal in the desert. Some say these creatures are grasshopper-like.
    • ANATH: This was a Love and War Goddess, the Venus star. She is also known for slaying the enimies of her brother Baal much in the same way Hathor slaughtered much of mankind (Anath is heavily related to Hathor). After the Defeat of Mavet and Yam, a feast was thrown for Baal. Anath locked everyone inside, and proceeded to slay everyone (as they had all been fickle toward Baal with both Mavet and Yam, as well as Ashtar). Baal stopped her and conveinced her that a reign of peace is what was needed. She also has confronted Mavet and was responsible for Baal's liberation from the underworld. She is the twin sister of Marah. Daughter of Asherah. She is also known as Rahmay- "The Merciful", and as Astarte. Astarte is the Canaanite Name of Ishtar; just as Ishtar is the Babylonian Name of Inanna. In all cases the Name means, simply, "Goddess" or "She of the Womb".
    • ARSAY: She of the Earth. Daughter of Baal. An underworld Goddess.
    • ASHERAH: The Mother of the Gods, Qodesh (just like El), Lady of the Sea, Wife of El. (see El). When the gods decided to entreat Yam to ease his reign of tyranny, it was Asherah who went to him and even offered herself. The gods agreed to let her do this, except for Baal who was enraged at the idea. (See Baal). Asherah is said to have given birth to seventy gods.
    • ASHTAR: Possibly a male version of Ishtar (Astarte in Canaan), the Venus Star. When Baal was killed by Mavet, Asherah had Ashtar, her son, placed on the throne. However, Ashtar was not big enough to fill the position, and resigned (quite possibly a relation of the Venus star being the last star to shine before the Sun takes over). I believe one of his titles is Malik (the King) and other names for him are Abimilki and Milkilu.
    • ASTARTE: A Name of Anath which means "Goddess", or literally "She of the Womb". Astarte is simply the Canaanite version of the Name Ishtar.
    • ATIK: The Calf of El. Enemy of Baal slain by Anath.
    • BAAL: He is the Canaanite Ruler God (like Marduk). Baal and Yam-Nahar origonally competed for kingship of the gods. The matter was brought before El, who decided in favour of Yam. Yam then proceeded with a reign of tyranny over the gods, and none of them felt they had the power to defeat Yam. So, they sent Asherah to entreat him to lossen his grip. Asherah even offered herself to Yam. Upon hearing this, Baal was enraged, and decided to defeat Yam. Yam got wind of Baal's plan and sent messengers to El with the demand that Baal be delivered to him. El, afraid, agreed. Baal then taunted the gods for their cowardice and went to face Yam. He had two weapons made, Yagrush (chaser) and Aymur (driver). He struck Yam on the chest with Yagrush to no avail. Then he struck him on the forehead with Aymur and fell Yam to the earth. After Yam's defeat, Baal had a palace built for himself; closely resembeling the story of Marduk. It also resembles Marduk's story in that the Primeval Waters threatened the gods, and the High God and others were afraid to face them, with the exception of the soon-to-be Ruler God. The Baal epic then continues to describe his fight against Mavet. Baal is also a Storm God like Marduk, and a fertility god like Tammuz. Dagon is his father. Baal is the Canaanite God-force (the goddess force seems to be split between Anath and Asherah). Baal's proper name is Hadad, relating to his storm-god aspect. Baal is really a title, meaning "Lord". Baal's residence is upon Mt. Zaphon. He is known as Rapiu (Shade) during his summer stay in the underworld.
    • BAALAT: Patron Goddess of Gubla. Fertility Goddess associated with Hathor and Isis.
    • DAGON: A vegitation God (especially corn). Father of Baal.
    • EL: The Father of the Gods, the Creator of Created Things, The Kindly, Kodesh. Asherah is his wife. When he was young, El went out upon the sea, and there met Asherah and Her companion Rohmaya. He then roasted a bird and asked them if They would be His wives or daughters. They chose to be His wives. El mates with these Goddesses and Shachar and Shalim (Dawn and Dusk) are born. This family then builds a sanctuary and lives in the desert for eight years. This episode may be the closest we have to a Creation story involving El. El wears bull horns upon his helmet, and He is a grey haired and bearded patriarch. He resides at "the Source of Two Rivers" upon Mt. Lel.
    • ELSH: Steward of El and Baal's house. His wife is the steward of the Goddesses.
    • ESHMUN: God of healing. A great God of Sidon.
    • GAPEN: A messenger of Baal. His name either means Vine or Field. Probably the former.
    • HADAD: See Baal. Originally the Sumer-Babylonian "Adad"
    • HELEL: Or Lucifer. The Light Bringer, the Morning Star. Son of Shachar. Helel once attempted to take his Father's Throne, but failed (another myth concerning Venus' place as the last star in the sky each morning, as if trying to defy the Sun). This is the very Myth which spawned the Christian Myth of the War in Heaven (see Issaiah 14:12- which, in Hebrew, says "Helel", and not "Lucifer").
    • HIRIBI: God of Summer.
    • HIRGAB: Father of Eagles. Husband(?) of S,umul.
    • HAURON: A God that is related to Ninurta of Mesopotamia and Horus of Egypt.
    • ITHM: God of sheep.
    • ISHAT: "Fire". The Bitch of the Gods. Enemy of Baal slain by Anath.
    • KOSHAROTH, THE: The Wise Goddesses. These may be somewhat along the lines of the Greek Graces, or the Seven Hathors of Egypt. As we see them, they are called to set up a Wedding. They are also sometimes symbolized as sparrows or swallows, which indicated fertility. They were Goddesses of childbirth. They are also known as the Daughters of the Cresent Moon, and thus are the daughers of Yarikh.
    • KOSHAR U KHASIS: "Skillfull and Clever". Craftsman of the Gods. Also known as Chousor and Heyan (Ea) and identified with Ptah. Built the palaces of both Yam-Nahir and Baal. He also fashioned the two clubs that Baal used to defeat Yam.
    • KOSHARTU: Wife of Koshar.
    • LEVIATHAN: Another Name for Lotan or Tannin. See Lotan.
    • LOTAN: This may be another story like Apophis, Zu, Asag, and Leviathan where it is not an actual creation story, but still involves the same energies, with Baal and Lotan fighting for supremecy. It is representative of rough winter sea-storms which calmed in the spring and which were preceded and accompanied by autumn rains (represented by Baal) which ended summer droughts and enabled crops to grow. Lotan is a seven headed serpent defeated by Baal with the help of Mavet. Anath also claims a role in the defeat of the Serpent. Also known as Tannin or Leviathan.
    • MARAH: Merciful Goddess of the Waters. Twin sister of Anath. Daughter of Asherah.
    • MAVET: God of Death and Sterility. His name means Death. In one hand he holds the scepter of bereavement, and in the other the scepter of widowhooed. His jaws and throat are described in cosmic proportions and serve as a euphamism for death. A son of El. After Baal defeated Yam, he then sent a message to Mavet demanding that he keep his domain in the underworld city of Miry where he belonged. Mavet was enraged by this and sent a threatening message to Baal, who was afraid and attempted to flatter his way out of it. This, however, was to no avail and Baal was forced to face Mavet. Mavet defeated him and held him in the underworld until Anath tracked him (Mavet) down and defeated him herself. Mavet did not actually die, as he and Baal had to face off once more seven years later. Neither defeated the other, but Mavet did give in (at the command of Shapash) and proclaimed Baal the King of the Gods.
    • MELQART: King of the City, the Hunter, Fire of Heaven. Patron god of Tyre, he was the god of the Metropolis and the monarchy at Tyre and Carthage. May have been a dying and rising vegetation god, and associated with the sacred marriage like the Sumerian Dumuzi. He was ritually immolated in an annual festival. He was also a god of the sea and was pictured mounted on a hippocampus.
    • NIKKAL: Consort of Yarikh. (S = Ningal). Goddess of the fruits of the Earth. Daughter of Hiribi.
    • PIDRAY: Girl of Light. A daughter or consort of Baal.
    • QADISH-U-AMRAR: The two messengers of Asherah fused into one God. He dredges up provisions to entertain her guests from the sea with a net.
    • RAHMAYA: A goddess impregnated, along with Asherah, by El. The Goddesses then gave birth to the twin gods Shahar and Shalem, though I don't know who gave birth to whom.
    • RADMANU: Or Pradmanu. A minor servitor of Baal.
    • REPHAIM, THE: "Shades". Underworld Deities. They move in chariots, on horseback, and upon wild asses.
    • RESHEPH: Probably a War God. Lord of the Arrow. Has gazel horns on his helmet. He destroys men in mass by war and plague. He is the porter of the sun Goddess Shepesh (this seems to resemble Khamael of the Hebrews). He is also called Mekal (Annialator), and could be related to the Hebrew Michael (Mikal) who is also a War God (ArchAngel). Related to Nergal of Mesopotamia.
    • SHACHAR: "Dawn". God of dawn. Either a son of Asherah, or of Rohmaya. According to Isaiah 14:12, He is the father of Helel (or Lucifer) the Light-Bringer and Morning Star.
    • SHALEM: "Dusk". God of sunset. The Contemplation of Day. Either a son of Asherah, or of Rohmaya.
    • SHAMU: Sky God who was the chief of the pantheon at the Syrian city of Alalakh.
    • SHAPASH: Sun Goddess. The Torch of the Gods.
    • SHATAQAT: "Drives away". Demoness sent by El to drive away Keret's (a Canaanite Mythic hero) disease.
    • SHEGER: "Offspring of Cattle". God of Cattle.
    • SIN: Moon God. Also a Babylonian God.
    • S,UMUL: Mother of the Eagles. She ate the body of Aqhat (a hero in a Canaanite Myth).
    • TALLAY: Girl of Rain. A daughter or consort of Baal.
    • TANNIN: Another Name for Leviathan or Lotan. See Lotan.
    • TANIT: Lady of Carthage. Face of Baal (Hammon, not Hadad).
    • UGAR: A messenger of Baal. His name either means Vine or Field, probably the latter. He may be the Patron God of Ugarit.
    • YAHWEH: Yahweh is added here because there was a short time in which He was simply part of the Canaanite pantheon. He was a Son of El; and he was part of the court of El as cupbearer along with Baal. Later, as the National God of Israel, Yahweh was equated with El, and Asherah became His wife. H.
    • YAM-NAHAR: Yam-Nahar is the Primordial Waters that were defeated by Baal (see Baal and Asherah). His name means Sea-River. He was originally given kingship by El, and ruled as a tyrant over the Gods. Baal finally rose up against him. He may also be Lotan.
    • YARIKH: Moon God. Illuminator of myriads of stars. Lamp of Heaven. Lord of the Sickle (the cresent moon?), and therefore father of the Kosharoth. Patron God of Qart-Abilim.
    • YBRDMY: Daugher of Baal.
    • YELLOW ONES OF MAVET: Mavet's henchmen who are slain by Baal upon his ressurection from defeat at Mavet's hands.
    • ZABIB: "Flies". Enemy of Baal, slain by Anath. There's an obvious relation between this Demon and and Baal Zabib (Beelzebub- Lord of the Flies).


    1. Ferm, Vergilius, Ancient Religions (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1950), pp. 113-143
    2. Mendenhall, George E., "The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine", in The Biblical Archaeologist Reader; ed. Edward F. Campbell Jr. and David Noel Freedman (vol. III; Garden City New York: Anchor Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1970), pp. 100-120
    3. The Catholic Dictionary; (An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Biblical and General Catholic Information; Cleveland and New York: The Catholic Press, The World Publishing Company, 1970)
    4. Article on Baalzebul I. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. G.A. Buttrick (Supplementary Volume; Nashville: Abingdon, 1976) I1
    5. The Jerome Biblical Commentary;ed. Raymond E. Brown (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersy:Prentice-Hall,1968)
    6. The Jerusalem Bible;ed. Alexander Jones (Garden City, New York:Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966), pg 387 JB Baal changed to Bosheth Footnote on II Sm 4:4
    7. A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scriptures;ed. Reginald C. Fuller (Nashville and New York: Thomas Nelson, Inc.,1975)
    8. New American Bible (Sponsered by the Bishops' Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Translated by the Catholic Biblical Association of America; Cleveland and New York; The Catholic Press, The World Publishing Company, 1970)
    9. The Ancient Near East;ed. James B. Pritchard (Vol I; An Anthology of Texts and Pictures;Princeton New Jersy: Princeton University Press, 1973)
    10. Williams, Jay G., Understanding the Old Testament (New York:Barron's Educational Series, Inc.,1972)


"In the wish to get the best information that I could on these matters (worship of the god Hercules), I made a voyage to Tyre in Phoenicia, hearing there was a temple of Hercules at that place, very highly venerated. I visited the temple, and found it richly adorned with a number of offerings, among which were two pillars, one of pure gold, the other of emerald, shining with great brilliancy at night. In a conversation which I held with the priests, I inquired how long their temple had been built, and found by their answer that they, too, differed from the Greeks. They said that the temple was built at the same time that the city was founded, and that the foundation of the city took place two thousand three hundred years ago. In Tyre I remarked another temple where the same god was worshipped as the Thasian Hercules. So I went on to Thasos, where I found a temple of Hercules which had been built by the Phoenicians who colonised that island when they sailed in search of Europa. Even this was five generations earlier than the time when Hercules, son of Amphitryon, was born in Greece. These researches show plainly that there is an ancient god Hercules; and my own opinion is that those Greeks act most wisely who build and maintain two temples of Hercules, in the one of which the Hercules worshipped is known by the name of Olympian, and has sacrifice offered to him as an immortal, while in the other the honours paid are such as are due to a hero.

Phoenicians take Egyptian cults to Greece

"It is certain that Melampus introduced the phallus, and that the Greeks learnt from him the ceremonies which they now practise. I therefore maintain that Melampus, who was a wise man, and had acquired the art of divination, having become acquainted with the worship of Bacchus through knowledge derived from Egypt, introduced it into Greece, with a few slight changes, at the same time that he brought in various other practices. For I can by no means allow that it is by mere coincidence that the Bacchic ceremonies in Greece are so nearly the same as the Egyptian- they would then have been more Greek in their character, and less recent in their origin. Much less can I admit that the Egyptians borrowed these customs, or any other, from the Greeks. My belief is that Melampus got his knowledge of them from Cadmus the Tyrian, and the followers whom he brought from Phoenicia into the country which is now called Boeotia.

"Almost all the names of the gods came into Greece from Egypt.

Culture migrates....

"The following tale is commonly told in Egypt concerning the oracle of Dodona in Greece, and that of Ammon in Libya. My informants on the point were the priests of Jupiter at Thebes. They said "that two of the sacred women were once carried off from Thebes by the Phoenicians, and that the story went that one of them was sold into Libya, and the other into Greece, and these women were the first founders of the oracles in the two countries." On my inquiring how they came to know so exactly what became of the women, they answered, "that diligent search had been made after them at the time, but that it had not been found possible to discover where they were; afterwards, however, they received the information which they had given me."

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