"They [the Carthaginians] also alleged that Cronus [Saturn] had turned against them inasmuch as in former times they had been accustomed to sacrifice to this god [planet] the noblest of their sons, but more recently, secretly buying and nurturing children, they had sent these to the sacrifice; and when an investigation was made, some of those who had been sacrificed were discovered to have been supposititious. When they had given thought to these things and saw their enemy encamped before their walls, they were filled with superstitious dread, for they believed that they had neglected the honours of the gods [planets] that had been established by their fathers. In their zeal to make amends for their omission, they selected two hundred of the noblest children and sacrificed them publicly; and others who were under suspicion sacrificed themselves voluntarily, in number not less than three hundred." -- Diodorus Siculus, historian, Library of History, Book XX, 1st century B.C.
"There was in their city [Carthage] a bronze image of Cronus [Saturn], extending his hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit with fire. ... Also the story passed down among the Greeks from ancient myth that Cronus [Saturn] did away with his own children appears to have been kept in mind among the Carthaginians through this observance." -- Diodorus Siculus, historian, Library of History, Book XX, 1st century B.C.
"Again, would it not have been far better for the Carthaginians to have taken Critias or Diagoras to draw up their law-code at the very beginning, and so not to believe in any divine power or god, rather than to offer such sacrifices as they used to offer to Cronos [Saturn]?" -- Plutarch, historian, On Superstition, 1st century
"No, but with full knowledge and understanding they themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums took the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people." -- Plutarch, historian, On Superstition, 1st century
Atheists and unbelievers will say literally anything in order to contradict the Bible -- like Lavoisier and Jefferson said meteorites don't exist because they are in the Bible. Unfortunately for the history deniers, the historical record confirms the Bible and contradicts self-hating Jew Schwartz & Co.
Science Daily: Study Debunks Millennia-Old Claims of Systematic Infant Sacrifice in Ancient Carthage.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2010) — A study led by University of Pittsburgh researchers could finally lay to rest the millennia-old conjecture that the ancient empire of Carthage regularly sacrificed its youngest citizens. An examination of the remains of Carthaginian children revealed that most infants perished prenatally or very shortly after birth and were unlikely to have lived long enough to be sacrificed, according to a Feb. 17 report in PLoS One.Rogue Classicist makes short work of this pseudoscience and pseudoskepticism fueled by blatant Jew-hatred.
UPDATE: Apparently the history deniers are as well organized as the Holocaust denial movement: Carthage tries to live down image as site of infanticide.
Less welcome to the national consciousness are reminders of Carthage's darker side. The supposed sacrifice of children in macabre religious rituals, says Mr. Fantar, is a stain that must be removed. "This is all propaganda," he says.Reality Check From Harvard University: YES, The Phoenician/Punic practiced Child Sacrifice.
Seeking to debunk Carthage's reputed homicidal tendencies, he has written articles, organized seminars and appeared on TV and radio. He is also grooming a new generation of local scholars, including his own son, who similarly deny that the practice of human sacrifices ever occurred. Guides in Carthage are now instructed by the tourism ministry to tell visitors that the sacrifices didn't happen.
Lawrence Stager, a Harvard University archaeology professor and expert on the subject, calls the revisionism a whitewash. He's now editing a book that will include the results of long forensic analysis of charred bones he helped dig up in Carthage in the 1970s. This, says Mr. Stager, will prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Fantar and his followers are wrong. Still, he isn't expecting to win them over. "No one really relishes having ancestors who committed such heinous acts," he says.
The thousands of individual burials, the several mass burials and the animal burials all demonstrate that these were sacrifical offerings to the gods.
Lawrence E. Stager and Joseph 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.
Evidence from classical authors. Ancient authors, both Greco-Roman historians like Kleitarchos, Diodorus and Plutarch and Church fathers like Tertullian, condemn the Carthaginians for the practice of child sacrifice. Some add lurid but unverifiable details‹sacrifices witnessed by distraught mothers, grimacing victims consumed by flames, human offerings received in the outstretched arms of a brazen statue. On one point these sources are completely in accord: The Carthaginians sacrificed their children to their supreme deities.
To be sure, some historians who wrote about Carthage, such as Polybius, took no note of this practice. Why Polybius failed to mention Carthaginian child sacrifice is a mystery. He was a member of Scipio's staff in 146 B.C., and he must have known the city well. The revisionists seize on such omissions as an excuse to dismiss all reports of Phoenician child sacrifice as pure fabrications arising from anti-Phoenician bias. But this is a non sequitur. The fact that Polybius does not mention Carthaginian child sacrifice does not mean that other testimonies are false; it simply means that he has nothing to say on this point.
Evidence from the Hebrew Bible. The sixth-century B.C. prophet Jeremiah accused syncretizing Judahites of setting up a "high place of Tophet" in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom outside Jerusalem (Jeremiah 7:30-32), where they "burn (sharaf) their sons and their daughters in the fire (b'esh)." This is clearly not a description of sons and daughters "passing through" the fire in some sort of rite of passage from which they emerge singed but not incinerated. These children, both male and female, "burn ... in the fire," that is, they are cremated, according to Jeremiah. This testimony is not from a foreigner who accuses the Judahites of evil ways; it is from one of their own. Any Jerusalemite who thought that the prophet might have been fabricating charges of child sacrifice could have taken a short walk down the valley of Ben-Hinnom and become, like Jeremiah, an eyewitness to the human sacrifices taking place there.
The word "Tophet" can be translated "place of burning" or "roaster." The Hebrew text does not specify that the Judahite victims were buried, only burned, although the "place of burning" was probably adjacent to the place of burial. Indeed, soil in the Carthage Tophet was found to be full of olive wood charcoal, no doubt from the sacrificial pyres. We have no idea how the Phoenicians themselves referred to the places of burning or burial or to the practice itself, since no large body of Phoenician writing‹no Phoenician "Bible," as it were‹has come down to us.
Evidence from Phoenician inscriptions. What have come down to us are thousands of Phoenician inscriptions, the vast majority of which are from the Carthage Tophet. These inscriptions, however, are highly formulaic and tantalizingly laconic. None refers explicitly to child sacrifice, only to vows made to Tanit [Venus] and Ba'al Hammon [Saturn]. For example, an inscription on a stela from the Tanit II period (sixth to third century B.C.) reads: "To our lady, to Tanit ... and to our lord, to Ba'al Hammon, that which was vowed." The placement of such stelae immediately above the jars containing burned remains strongly suggests that these vows had something to do with the cremated individuals, human or animal, inside the jars.
*For more information on the meaning of the word "Moloch," see Lawrence E. Stager and Samuel R. Wolff, "Child Sacrifice at Carthage‹Religious Rite or Population Control? Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1984. (This issue is out of print. To order a photocopy of this article, call us at 1-800-221-4644.) Somewhat unexpectedly, inscribed stelae in the Carthage Tophet occasionally mark jars containing animal remains, incinerated and buried in the same careful fashion as the human victims. In this regard, a second- or third-century A.D. Neo-Punic stela from Cirta (Constantine), in Algeria, is relevant. The stela is inscribed in Latin: vita pro vita, sanguis pro sanguine, agnum pro vikario (Life for life, blood for blood, a lamb for a substitute). This act of substitution is reminiscent of the biblical Akedah, in which Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac was forestalled by the miraculous provision of a ram as a substitute (Genesis 22:13).*
Evidence from archaeology. The burned bones found inside jars from the Carthage Tophet provide conclusive evidence for Phoenician child sacrifice. Animal remains, mostly sheep and goats, found inside some of the Tophet urns strongly suggest that this was not a burial ground for children who died prematurely. The animals were sacrificed to the gods, presumably in place of children. It is highly likely that the children unlucky enough not to have substitutes were also sacrificed and then buried in the Tophet.
Moreover, the osteological evidence reveals that most of the victims were children two to three months old, though some were as old as age five. So far no skeleton has shown any signs of pathological conditions that might have caused death. These were healthy children deliberately killed as sacrifices in the manner described in the classical and biblical texts.
The sex of the victims is unclear. We do not know for certain whether they were exclusively males, as some have asserted, or both males and females. Some biblical texts suggest that firstborn males were chosen as the ultimate sacrifice to the deity. For example, during a military engagement between the Moabites and the Israelites, the king of Moab "took his firstborn son who was to succeed him, and offered him as a burnt offering." Upon witnessing this sacrifice, the Israelites retreated and "returned to their own land" (2 Kings 3:27). The prophet Micah lists the sacrifice of the firstborn male as the highest form of offering a human can give to a god‹even better than "calves a year old," rams or "rivers of olive oil" (Micah 6:6-7). Other texts, however, specify that both "sons and daughters" were sacrificed in the Tophet (Jeremiah 7:31 and 2 Kings 23:10).
Infant skeletons are insufficiently developed to allow the determination of sex on the basis of bone morphology alone. Ongoing DNA analysis of bones from the jars, however, may resolve the question of whether the victims were all males or a mix of males and females.
The classical and biblical texts, as well as the archaeology, all indicate that healthy living children were sacrificed to the gods in the Tophet. Our purpose in making this case is not to malign the Phoenicians but to understand them.