Evidence Of Child Sacrifice Found At Zarapath -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 04:1 (Winter 1975)
Article: Evidence Of Child Sacrifice Found At Zarapath
Author: Anonymous

Evidence Of Child Sacrifice Found At Zarapath

Zarapath, where Elijah raised the widow’s son to life (1 Kings 17), continues to produce fascinating discoveries. (For earlier reports, see our Winter 1972 and Winter 1973 issues.) During the 1974 season, a find was made which links the site to the goddess Tanit and the practice of child sacrifice.

The Iron Age city of Zarapath as it is being uncovered by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Carthaginians

The Canaanites who lived on the Mediterranean coast, in what is today modern Lebanon, were proficient seamen. Known to the Greeks as Phoenicians, these coastal Canaanites engaged in trade throughout the Mediterranean. In so doing, they established colonies at strategic coastal locations. The most prosperous of these was Carthage, located on the northern coast of Africa, opposite the toe of Italy’s boot. Settled in the eighth century B.C., Carthage became powerful and eventually replaced the homeland Phoenecians as the great sea power in the Mediterranean. The Carthaginians were famous in history for their wars with Rome in the third and second centuries B.C. (The “Punic” Wars, so-called because the Romans referred to the Carthaginians as “Poeni,” or Phonecians.)

It has long been known that the primary deity of Carthage was the goddess Tanit and that the Carthaginians showed their reverence to her with a supreme offering — their children. But where and when the bizarre cult began has been a mystery to scholars. Some have proposed that the goddess was a Libyan divinity, taken over by the Phoenicians after their arrival in the Western Mediterranean. Others have maintained that she was imported directly from the Phoenician homeland. The 1974 excavation at Zarapath, the first Phoenician homeland city to be excavated, has provided evidence that the latter theory is probably the correct one.

Inscription Found

In the 1971 season a small shrine dating to the Iron Age (1200-600 B.C.) was discovered at Zarapath. This was the first homeland Phoenecian shrine to be found. In 1974, excavations in the shrine produced an assortment of votive objects and cultic equipment, including figurines, carved ivory, beads, masks, amulets, cosmetic equipment and saucer lamps. Among the objects found in the shrine was an ivory plaque with an inscription on it. The plaque was probably originally fastened to a wooden statue.

The four-line inscription of the plaque, written in ancient Phoenician characters, reads “This statue made (by) Shillem, son of Mabaal, son of Inai for Tani...

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