Inside the Great Infanticide Debate: Did the Phoenicians Sacrifice Their Infants

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RSVPS ARE NOT OPEN AT THIS TIME. MEMBERS OF BASONOVA HAVE PRIORITY SEATING. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION, PLEASE MESSAGE SUSAN. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. ------------------------------------ Inside the Great Infanticide Debate: Did the Phoenicians Sacrifice Their Infants? Brien Garnand Although votive dedications are among the most studied components of Canaanite/Phoenician society, they remain poorly understood. The inhabitants of the Levantine coast - biblical Canaanites, classical Phoenicians - allegedly consecrated infants to Baal/Cronus as holocaust offerings. Israelites were said to have copied such practices at Tophet (“Place of Burning”) in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom next to Jerusalem, which lent its name to Tophet precincts across the central Mediterranean. The largest of these precincts was found at the Phoenician colony of Carthage, where archaeologists have uncovered the cremated remains of thousands of infants set beneath stone markers with votive inscriptions. Since the Canaanites/Phoenicians competed with the Israelites, Greeks and Romans, some modern scholars have challenged the veracity of these tendentious ancient sources. Instead of sacrifice, they posit an infant cemetery for children who did not survive infancy combined with related thank offerings for children who did survive. Which view does evidence better support? BASONOA members will get an insider’s review of the facts in anticipation of the final report of the ASOR Punic Project Excavations at the Tophet of Carthage. Brien Garnard is Assistant Professor at Howard University

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