: " ... Graves holding tiny cremated bones confirm accounts dismissed as Greek or Roman black propaganda, study shows
Just as ancient Greek and Roman propagandists insisted, the Carthaginians did kill their own infant children, burying them with sacrificed animals and ritual inscriptions in special cemeteries to give thanks for favours from the gods, according to a new study.
"This is something dismissed as black propaganda because in modern times people just didn't want to believe it," said Josephine Quinn, a lecturer in ancient history at Oxford, who is behind the study, with international colleagues, of one of the most bitterly debated questions in classical archaeology.
"But when you pull together all the evidence – archaeological, epigraphic and literary – it is overwhelming and, we believe, conclusive: they did kill their children, and on the evidence of the inscriptions, not just as an offering for future favours but fulfilling a promise that had already been made.
"This was not a common event, and it must have been among an elite because cremation was very expensive, and so was the ritual of burial. It may even have been seen as a philanthropic act for the good of the whole community."
Argument has raged on the subject since cemeteries known as tophets – after the biblical account of a place of sacrifice – were excavated in the early 20th century on the outskirts of Carthage in modern Tunisia, and then at other Carthaginian sites in Sicily and Sardinia. The graves held tiny cremated bones carefully packed into urns, buried under tombstones giving thanks to the gods. One has a carving which has been interpreted as a priest carrying the body of a small child. Some archaeologists and historians saw the finds as proving ancient accounts of child sacrifice; others insisted they showed tender respect for cherished children who died before or soon after birth.
Quinn and her colleagues, a group of Punic archaeologists and historians from Italy and the Netherlands, who publish their findings in the journal Antiquity – where the argument has been rumbling on for several years – completely reject the latter theory.
"The inscriptions are unequivocal: time and again we find the explanation that the gods 'heard my voice and blessed me'. It cannot be that so many children conveniently happened to die at just the right time to become an offering – and in any case a poorly or dead child would make a pretty feeble offering if you're already worried about the gods rejecting it."
"Then there is the fact that the animals from the sites, which were beyond question sacrificial offerings, are buried in exactly the same way, sometimes in the same urns with the bones of the children."
Although hundreds of remains were found, there were far too few to represent all the stillbirth and infant deaths of Carthage. According to Quinn, there were perhaps 25 such burials a year, for a city of perhaps 500,000 people.
The Roman historian Diodorus and other ancient historians gave graphic accounts of Carthaginian child sacrifice: "There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping towards the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire."
Diodorus even said that some citizens who bought children from poor people and reared them specially for sacrifice believed misfortunes had resulted because they had not sacrificed their own offspring.
The argument has been passionate for years, with scientists often reaching opposed conclusions from the same bone fragments: four years ago a group of scientists published a paper saying the cremated remains did not indicate infant sacrifice.
Now in the same issue as Quinn's research, Antiquity is publishing a new paper on the same bones, insisting that the earlier study got the science of burnt infant bones wrong, and therefore greatly overestimated the number who died before birth rather than being murdered in infancy.
Quinn said many of her academic colleagues were appalled by her conclusions.
"The feeling that some ultimate taboo is being broken is very strong. It was striking how often colleagues, when they asked what I was working on, reacted in horror and said, 'Oh no, that's simply not possible, you must have got it wrong.'"
"We like to think that we're quite close to the ancient world, that they were really just like us – the truth is, I'm afraid, that they really weren't." ... " Maev Kennedy, The Guardian
(Sept. 21, 2017) I think I've stumbled on another African information black hole: Carthage! - The Romans considered Carthage her most dangerous rival. - An African power! The Saturn civilization ...
Knowing the way that works, the senior gods usually win in the end ... Maybe that's the too-much light activity in the Sahara from page 55 of this website ...
According to Wikipedia there has been a complete loss of Carthaginian civilization. After losing her power struggle with Rome, everything was lost including all traces of her written culture.
However, this is probably not true - the Tifinar script discussed on page 55 is probably the lost Punic script that wikipedia is referring to. Also, it appears the Romans integrated what remained of the Carthaginian religion ...
" ... Most ancient literature concerning Carthage comes from Greek and Roman sources as Carthage's own documents were destroyed by the Romans. Apart from inscriptions, hardly any Punic literature has survived, and none in its own language and script. A brief catalogue would include:
- three short treaties with Rome (Latin translations);
- several pages of Hanno the Navigator's log-book concerning his fifth century maritime exploration of the Atlantic coast of west Africa (Greek translation);
- fragments quoted from Mago's fourth/third century 28-volume treatise on agriculture (Latin translations);
- the Roman playwright Plautus (c. 250 – 184) in his Poenulus incorporates a few fictional speeches delivered in Punic, whose written lines are transcribed into Latin letters phonetically;
- the thousands of inscriptions made in Punic script, thousands, but many extremely short, e.g., a dedication to a deity with the personal name(s) of the devotee(s).
"[F]rom the Greek author Plutarch [(c. 46 – c. 120)] we learn of the 'sacred books' in Punic safeguarded by the city's temples. Few Punic texts survive, however." Once "the City Archives, the Annals, and the scribal lists of suffets" existed, but evidently these were destroyed in the horrific fires during the Roman capture of the city in 146 BC.
Yet some Punic books (Latin: libri punici) from the libraries of Carthage reportedly did survive the fires. These works were apparently given by Roman authorities to the newly augmented Berber rulers. Over a century after the fall of Carthage, the Roman politician-turned-author Gaius Sallustius Crispus or Sallust (86–34) reported his having seen volumes written in Punic, which books were said to be once possessed by the Berber king, Hiempsal II (r. 88–81). By way of Berber informants and Punic translators, Sallust had used these surviving books to write his brief sketch of Berber affairs.
Juba II, reigned 25 BCE – 23 CE
Probably some of Hiempsal II's libri punici, that had escaped the fires that consumed Carthage in 146 BC, wound up later in the large royal library of his grandson Juba II (r.25 BC-AD 24).Juba II not only was a Berber king, and husband of Cleopatra's daughter, but also a scholar and author in Greek of no less than nine works. He wrote for the Mediterranean-wide audience then enjoying classical literature. The libri punici inherited from his grandfather surely became useful to him when composing his Libyka, a work on North Africa written in Greek. Unfortunately, only fragments of Libyka survive, mostly from quotations made by other ancient authors. It may have been Juba II who 'discovered' the five-centuries-old 'log book' of Hanno the Navigator, called the Periplus, among library documents saved from fallen Carthage.
In the end, however, most Punic writings that survived the destruction of Carthage "did not escape the immense wreckage in which so many of Antiquity's literary works perished."Accordingly, the long and continuous interactions between Punic citizens of Carthage and the Berber communities that surrounded the city have no local historian. Their political arrangements and periodic crises, their economic and work life, the cultural ties and social relations established and nourished (infrequently as kin), are not known to us directly from ancient Punic authors in written accounts. Neither side has left us their stories about life in Punic-era Carthage.
Regarding Phoenician writings, few remain and these seldom refer to Carthage. The more ancient and most informative are cuneiform tablets, ca. 1600–1185, from ancient Ugarit, located to the north of Phoenicia on the Syrian coast; it was a Canaanite city politically affiliated with the Hittites. The clay tablets tell of myths, epics, rituals, medical and administrative matters, and also correspondence.[The highly valued works of Sanchuniathon, an ancient priest of Beirut, who reportedly wrote on Phoenician religion and the origins of civilization, are themselves completely lost, but some little content endures twice removed. Sanchuniathon was said to have lived in the 11th century, which is considered doubtful. Much later a Phoenician History by Phil of Blossomy (64–141) reportedly existed, written in Greek, but only fragments of this work survive. An explanation proffered for why so few Phoenician works endured: early on (11th century) archives and records began to be kept on papyrus, which does not long survive in a moist coastal climate. Also, both Phoenicians and Carthaginians were well known for their secrecy.
Thus, of their ancient writings we have little of major interest left to us by Carthage, or by Phoenicia the country of origin of the city founders. "Of the various Phoenician and Punic compositions alluded to by the ancient classical authors, not a single work or even fragment has survived in its original idiom." "Indeed, not a single Phoenician manuscript has survived in the original [language] or in translation."We cannot therefore access directly the line of thought or the contour of their worldview as expressed in their own words, in their own voice. Ironically, it was the Phoenicians who "invented or at least perfected and transmitted a form of writing [the alphabet] that has influenced dozens of cultures including our own."
As noted, the celebrated ancient books on agriculture written by Mago of Carthage survives only via quotations in Latin from several later Roman works. ... " Wikipedia
And - apparently Carthage and her faith were Romanized - up to, and including at least one Roman emperor - Septimius Severus:
" ... The destruction of Carthage was not the end of the Carthaginians. After the wars, the city of Carthage was completely razed and the land around it was turned into farmland for Roman citizens. There were, however, other Punic cities in North Africa, and Carthage itself was rebuilt and regained some importance, if a shadow of its ancient influence. Although the area was partially romanized and some of the population adopted the Roman religion (while fusing it with aspects of their beliefs and customs), the language and the ethnicity persisted for some time. People of Punic origin prospered again as traders, merchants and even politicians of the Roman Empire. Septimius Severus, emperor of Rome and a proud Punic, was said to speak Latin with a Punic accent. Under his reign Carthaginians rose to the elites and their deities entered their imperial cult. Carthage was rebuilt about 46 BC by Julius Caesar. Places in the area were granted for settlement as benefits to soldiers who had served in Roman armies. Carthage again prospered and even became the number two trading city in the Roman Empire, until Constantinople took over that position. As Christianity spread in the Roman Empire, it was especially successful in North Africa, Carthage becoming a Christian city even before Christianity was legal. Saint Augustine, born in Thagaste (modern-day Algeria), considered himself Punic, and left some important reflections on Punic cultural history.One of his more well known passages reads: "It is an excellent thing that the Punic Christians call Baptism itself nothing else but salvation, and the Sacrament of Christ's Body nothing else but life."
The last remains of a distinct Punic culture probably disappeared somewhere in the chaos during the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The demographic and cultural characteristics of the region were thoroughly transformed by turbulent events such as the Vandals' wars with Byzantines, the forced population movements that followed and the early Muslim conquests in the 7th century. ... " Wikipedia
Also, it probably means something that the first grand dynasty of Islam - the Fatimids, trace their origins to Tunisia:
" ... The Fatimid Caliphate was an Ismaili Shia Islamic caliphate that spanned a large area of North Africa, from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The dynasty of Arab origin ruled across the Mediterranean coast of Africa and ultimately made Egypt the centre of the caliphate. At its height the caliphate included in addition to Egypt varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz.
The Fatimids claimed descent from Fatimah, the daughter of Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Fatimid state took shape among the Kutama Berbers, in the West of the North African littoral, in Algeria, in 909 conquering Raqqada, the Aghlabid capital. In 921 the Fatimids established the Tunisian city of Mahdia as their new capital. In 948 they shifted their capital to Al-Mansuriya, near Kairouan in Tunisia. In 969 they conquered Egypt and established Cairo as the capital of their caliphate; Egypt became the political, cultural, and religious centre of their empire. The Fatimid caliphate was distinguished by the central role of Berbers in its initial establishment and in helping its development, especially on the military and political levels.
The ruling class belonged to the Ismaili branch of Shi'ism, as did the leaders of the dynasty. The existence of the caliphate marked the only time the descendants of Ali and Fatimah were united to any degree (except for the final period of the Rashidun Caliphate under Ali himself from 656 to 661) and the name "Fatimid" refers to Fatimah. The different term Fatimite is sometimes used to refer to the caliphate's subjects.
After the initial conquests, the caliphate often allowed a degree of religious tolerance towards non-Ismaili sects of Islam, as well as to Jews, Maltese Christians, and Egyptian Coptic Christians.However, its leaders made little headway in persuading the Egyptian population to adopt its religious beliefs.
During the late eleventh and twelfth centuries the Fatimid caliphate declined rapidly, and in 1171 Saladin invaded its territory. He founded the Ayyubid dynasty and incorporated the Fatimid state into the Abbasid Calipha ... " Wikipedia