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"Sanctuary of Tophet" Tophet Tip by Willettsworld

Tophet, Carthage: 5 reviews and 16 photos

This was my first stop at Carthage and I came here from the nearby Carthage Salammbo station. The name Tophet (meaning "place of burning"), which is found in the Old Testament ("in the valley of the children of Hinnom"), was the sacred place where human sacrifices (molek) were offered to the gods. The principal gods of Carthage were the sun god Baal-Ammon (the equivalent of the Greek Kronos and Roman Saturn) and the moon goddess Tanit (the "Face of Baal"; the equivalent of the Phoenician Astarte, Greek Hera and Roman Juno Caelestis). The Tophet, a sanctuary enclosed by walls, is believed to have been built on the spot where the legendary foundress of Carthage, Elissa, landed in Tunisia. The excavations (which started in 1921) have shown that the custom of sacrificing first-born children, particularly boys, which was common in earlier times in the Near East, was also practiced in the early days of Carthage. Although the heyday of the cult was from the sixth to the third centuries B.C., the Tophet continued in use as a cult site into the early Christian period. More than 20,000 urns have been discovered here as well as hundreds of stone stelae (carved gravestones).

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 1, 2009
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