Tag Archives: Carthage

New Research Suggests Carthage Baby Cemetery Not for Sacrificial Victims

One of the infamous characteristics of Ancient Carthage was, according to their Roman enemies, their prolific practice of child sacrifice. Many ancient historians mention the practice, the most colorful by Diodorus Siculus

Denis Jarvis; burial ground of Tophet

“There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus extending its 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 filled with fire.” Hist20.14.6

New research suggests that the child burials of Carthage may not in fact be evidence of the practice (or at least of it being wide-spread). Rather, they are burial sites for infants and fetuses that died as a result of premature birth. Infant mortality was high in the ancient world (in some cases, 40% of children died before reaching their fifth birthday). The loss of a child during pregnancy or birth was also a common occurrence.

Jeffrey Schwartz, Ph.D. asserts that the majority of burials found here represent children that died of natural causes and not from the horrific murder of infants to the God Ba’al.

To learn more about these findings, read the article at MSNBC or purchase the more extensive Academic Journal Article at Antiquity.

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Ancient Warship Sheds New Light on Roman Navy

Archaeologists excavating a 2,300 year old ship, located in the “Bay of Pirates,” are hoping to shed light on naval war tactics during the Punic Wars (the wars between Rome and Carthage). The Romans, who detested the water, are reported to have built their ships with a rostrum, a type of ‘beak’ that was used to ram the enemy.

Carbon dating has placed the sinking of the ship at approximately 260 BCE, during the first Punic War. They shave published their findings in this month’s Analytical Chemistry. If you do not have a subscription to the journal, read the summary at Science Daily.

Post-Revolutionary Libya: the Hopes & Risks for Archaeology

The recent uprisings and revolution in Libya has given archaeologists new hope for exploring and conserving the vast historical treasures within the country. Sites, such as the famed Leptis Magna, have largely been ignored and neglected by the Gaddafi regime in the last few decades. Budding nationalism and patriotism are expected to foster greater interest in the heritage of Libya. Still, the current instability of the nation provides dangers to those who would hope to preserve the archaeological treasures. Looting is rampant and unstabilized regions still pose a risk to those who wish to investigate.

“It is moments like these when big directions are taken by design or default, and those who care about heritage should aim for design,” William Brown, Brookings Institute

To learn more about the possibilities and dangers that face a new Libya, read this article in Nature.

Update on Libya’s Antiquities

In the wake of the civil unrest in the Libya, the state of its antiquities has been cause for concern for scholars and archaeologists. Due to the current political state, independent reporters and UNESCO investigators cannot travel to the state to verify their status.

Libya has a wealth of historical material, prehistory, Carthaginian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, and more modern amenities. Such sites are often of little to no concern during bloody coups when people are most concerned about basic survival.

We know that artifacts have already been stolen, and UNESCO has issued statements to auctions houses warning them to be on high alert for looted antiquities (see the article on BBC). Native archaeologists have already begun to petition the provisional government to take special efforts to preserve sites and artifacts. CNN has issued a special report on Libya’s “other wealth” and you can read more about here.