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ANAHITA  January 1999

ANAHITA January 1999

Subject:

Re: Quest for Immortality

From:

Max Dashu <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 17 Jan 1999 10:13:08 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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>        Max D wrote, "I understand that this claim of 'child sacrifices'
>has been
>debunked."  Off hand I don't see how, though I can guess why.  Some people are
>just too uncomfortable with the idea.  A little clarity, though.  Which child
>sacrifices are being debunked, Greek, Israelite or Phoenician/Punic?

Phoenecian/Punic. If I had more information I would offer it, but I no
longer remember which listserv this was being discussed on (H-women?). It
was suggested that the existence of child necropoli was not in itself
evidence of child sacrifice, but a response to high infant mortality.

What is the basis for this debunking?  Do the debunkers have a desire to
admire said
>ancient society?  Do the debunkers rely on "of course" arguments -- e.g. "One
>simply cannot imagine the existence at any time of a cultured human society
>which regularly killed its firstborn."

This was definitely not the orientation of the critique of child-sacrifice.
As to admiration, I think it has to be counterposed to the biblical
polemics which cast the Phoenecians (and other non-coreligionists) as
wicked people, or Roman diatribes against their hated enemies. In fairness,
possible bias in the source should be considered. I'm skeptical of these
claims but would be interested in hard evidence.

The original "tophet" southeast of Jerusalem, where infants were allegedly
passed through the fires of Moloch, is known to have been a garbage dump
where dead bodies and ordure were burned. Is there any archaeological
evidence that "Gehenna" was ever a sanctuary? Or of numerous child bones?

>        I think the tophets dug up in Carthage and elsewhere in the western
>Mediterranean make it clear enough, infants were sacrificed in Punic cities.

How exactly has it been determined that these were ritual killings and not
natural deaths? Is there evidence in the form of inscriptions? I know of a
tophet at Tyre which had all the marks of a necropolis, with stelae,
offering vessels, amulets, and funerary urns filled with bones and bone ash
from cremations. Same with the Sardinian tophets.

Max Dashu

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