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Old April 3rd, 2012, 04:18 AM   #1

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Carthaginian Religion and Deities


I only know Carthage from a military prospective; besides Tanit and Ba'al, I'm a total ignorant in the field.
I'd like to know more about the Carthaginian "pantheon" and the most important religious practices of the Punics.

Thanks in advance
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 07:06 AM   #2

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Their pantheon was more or less the same as in Phoenicia. Among them were those you've already mentioned, Anat, Astarte, Moloch, Hadad, Dagon, El, Eshmun and others. I believe there were probably some Mauritian and Numidian gods added into the picture.
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 07:25 AM   #3

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Their main deities were brought from their Phoenician origins, and we have quite a comprehensive list which are attested by Punic stelae, whilst at least two were not Phoenician in origin and were initiated in 396 BC when they adopted the cult of the Greek goddesses Demeter and Kore after the Carthaginians destroyed their temple in Sicily to appease them (a string of bad luck followed the destruction, including a Libyan rebellion). The Egyptian goddess Issus also had a temple in the city.

The three main ones were Melquart, Astarte and the most prominent aspect of their Chief god Baal was Baal Hammon (other aspects were Baal Iddir, Baal Marqod, Baal Oz, Baal Qarnem, Baal Sapon and Baal Shamin, some Carthaginians also considered them other gods as Baal, or b'l, means 'lord', so it can get quite confusing!) who held a prominent place in Carthaginian religion. We also have Eshmun, Reshef (or Rasap, who again has a few aspects, usually thought to be equated with Apollo) and Shadrap (seen as Dionysus, though sometimes Apollo). There was also the sun-goddess Semes, and Hudis god of the new moon, Kese god of the full moon, Kusor god of intellect, Hawot goddess of the dead, and other obscure ones like Pumay, Sakun and Arish.

Some divinities played a larger role at Carthage than among other Phoenicians, mainly Tanit (Tnt), who began to become dominant in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, usually always coupled with Baal. Tanit became the most visually recognised deity, adorning mosaics and many small items like pottery and figurines.


Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.
Symbols of Tanit


Its believed that aristocratic families paid special reverence towards a particular deity as their patron or protector, such as Hannibal Barca's family paying particular attention to Melqart (where we see Hannibal offering sacrifices to Melqart in a temple at Gades, and possibly in some coins issued by the Barcids that could picture Melqart).

The priesthood was taken by leading men in public life, and they performed The Awakening rite (the priest responsible for the rite was given the title 'awakener of the god, or of the dead god), which involved a ritual of death followed by rebirth (either daily or yearly) for the god Melqart.

They appear to have belief in life after death, suggested by food and drink utensils and paintings found in tombs.



When I get some time I'll add more information (namely on the tophet and child sacrifice, unless someone beats me to it!)

Last edited by markdienekes; April 3rd, 2012 at 08:56 AM.
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 08:40 AM   #4

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Thank you!
Markdienekes is really a Punic bible


Last night I was reading about Carthage's relation with females and the matriarchal society started by Dido and Tanit.
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Old April 4th, 2012, 05:50 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdienekes View Post
When I get some time I'll add more information (namely on the tophet and child sacrifice, unless someone beats me to it!)
I wanted to ask that question when I saw the title of the thread. Is it purely Roman propaganda of the time or is their some truth in it??

I heard prof Phears once state in a seminar that calified remains were in fact found on the site where the temple of Ba'al once stood.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 02:05 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdienekes View Post
The priesthood was taken by leading men in public life, and they performed The Awakening rite (the priest responsible for the rite was given the title 'awakener of the god, or of the dead god), which involved a ritual of death followed by rebirth (either daily or yearly) for the god Melqart.

I find this part particularly interesting. Is there much clarification on the 'dead god' aspect at all? The idea of deities quite literally (if a believer) dying is more than a little rare... or am I missing something? (My knowledge is very shabby on this). I can only recall an Ancient Cretan legend of the death of Zeus, where a number of Cretan towns claimed occurred in a nearby cave to them, (they're always trying to pull in the tourists eh) yet utterly disregarded by the Hellenes.

Maybe a link between the two perhaps? Both were big-time traders of the East Med and must've been constantly passing one another.

Would this ritual be an animal sacrifice or, I don't know, extinguishing and relighting torches or something?
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Old April 5th, 2012, 03:09 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephialtes View Post
I find this part particularly interesting. Is there much clarification on the 'dead god' aspect at all? The idea of deities quite literally (if a believer) dying is more than a little rare... or am I missing something? (My knowledge is very shabby on this). I can only recall an Ancient Cretan legend of the death of Zeus, where a number of Cretan towns claimed occurred in a nearby cave to them, (they're always trying to pull in the tourists eh) yet utterly disregarded by the Hellenes.

Maybe a link between the two perhaps? Both were big-time traders of the East Med and must've been constantly passing one another, there appears to be quite a few death-rebirth deities!

Would this ritual be an animal sacrifice or, I don't know, extinguishing and relighting torches or something?
There's a link to the Babylonian god Nergal, and Heracles, here's some links to information on it, hope that helps! It appears to be immolation-related.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=J...20rite&f=false (starts pages 42)

Starf*cker: The Catastrophic Conjunction of Venus and Mars - Ev Cochrane - Google Books
(page 80)

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1...20rite&f=false (page 68)

We sadly don't have much information on it... : (

Last edited by markdienekes; April 5th, 2012 at 03:40 PM.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 03:41 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephialtes View Post
I find this part particularly interesting. Is there much clarification on the 'dead god' aspect at all? The idea of deities quite literally (if a believer) dying is more than a little rare... or am I missing something? (My knowledge is very shabby on this). I can only recall an Ancient Cretan legend of the death of Zeus, where a number of Cretan towns claimed occurred in a nearby cave to them, (they're always trying to pull in the tourists eh) yet utterly disregarded by the Hellenes.

Maybe a link between the two perhaps? Both were big-time traders of the East Med and must've been constantly passing one another.

Would this ritual be an animal sacrifice or, I don't know, extinguishing and relighting torches or something?
The Mediterrainian can be viewed as one big cultural sphere with some regional variations. The dying god motif was extremely common. From Tammuz to today's Jesus.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 12:17 AM   #9

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Originally Posted by Mandate of Heaven View Post
The Mediterrainian can be viewed as one big cultural sphere with some regional variations. The dying god motif was extremely common. From Tammuz to today's Jesus.
When you put it that way hehe, also Osiris off the top of my head.


Thankee Mark for your time, I shall have a look. I read your essays on Hasdrubal and Mago a little while ago and found them very interesting.

After the Roman conquest did the locals stick to their gods, or were the Roman ones slowly introduced to replace them? Christians were of course common in the later empire in the region, so I am now wondering whether the majority converted from Punic or Roman beliefs.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 12:44 AM   #10

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Punic religion did not disappear with the end of Carthage. There were sanctuaries reserved for the Punic gods and goddesses all over North Africa - Baal Hammon, under the guise of Saturn continued to be a popular deity even despite the rise and spread of Christianity. Another figure to persist and even resist Christianity was Tanit, who bore the name Caelestis. Some deities even preserved their former theonyms. We have numerous religious cults and practices that are a product of the Punic heritage attested in North Africa and its also believed that Punic beliefs contributed to the success of Christianity there too!

Thanks for reading Hasdrubal and Mago biographies, glad you found them interesting

Sadly I still haven't really got the time to sit down and write in more detail, but here's a link to a very good article on Phoenician religion well worth the time to check out:

http://www.academicroom.com/topics/phoenician

Last edited by markdienekes; April 6th, 2012 at 02:29 AM.
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