Biblical Archaeology Review 10:3, May/June 1984

Queries & Comments

Child Sacrifice at Carthage and Abortion

To the Editor:

What a powerful emotional impact was produced by the article “Child Sacrifice at Carthage—Religious Rite or Population Control?” (BAR 10:01). The photographs of all those gravestones plus the graphic descriptions of the “rites” were horrifying.

The authors Stager and Wolff have uncovered the victims of a practice that is the disgrace of Carthage. The parents’ motivation is revealing in light of the American practice of abortion. Those who sacrificed their children in ages past and those who sacrifice them today have the same motive—personal peace and prosperity.

Thank you for publishing this most important work that gives such great insight into the ancient world.

Louis Szklanecki Addison, Illinois

To the Editor:

Stager and Wolff presented convincing evidence that child sacrifice at Carthage served the secondary purpose of controlling the size of the population. The Carthaginians’ imagined sense of religious obligation made it possible for this institutionalized infanticide to exist in their society.

If we are repelled by the idea of infanticide as a means of population control, before we label the Carthaginians as barbarians, perhaps we ought to think about some of the techniques used in modern abortions, which are about as unsavory as burning babies. Maybe we’re more barbaric than the Carthaginians.

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