Archaeology Odyssey 3:6, November/December 2000
An Odyssey Debate

Were living Children Sacrificed to the Gods? Yes

The thousands of individual burials, the several mass burials and the animal burials all demonstrate that these were sacrificial offerings to the gods.

By Lawrence E. StagerJoseph A. Greene

The evidence that Phoenicians ritually sacrificed their children comes from four sources. Classical authors and biblical prophets charge the Phoenicians with the practice. Stelae associated with burial urns found at Carthage bear decorations alluding to sacrifice and inscriptions expressing vows to Phoenician deities. Urns buried beneath these stelae contain remains of children (and sometimes of animals) who were cremated as described in the sources or implied by the inscriptions.

Still, some scholars like Dr. Fantar deny that the Phoenicians sacrificed their children. They dismiss the texts as tendentious or misinformed, and they ignore the sacrificial implications of the inscribed stelae. The archaeological evidence, however, especially the bones found inside the burial urns, cannot be so easily explained away.

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