The Religion of Ancient Carthage (Video)
The religion of Carthage, though now largely forgotten, once held a significant presence across the Mediterranean. Despite the scarcity of surviving records, modern archaeology has played a crucial role in reconstructing this ancient Pagan belief system. Derived from the Phoenician religion, Carthage's polytheistic practices involved a diverse pantheon of gods, with El and Asherah at its apex. The Phoenician practice of focusing on select deities within the broader pantheon persisted in Carthage, exemplified by the prominence of Melqart and later Tanit, often associated with fertility and war. The religion underwent internal and external transformations, incorporating elements from neighboring cultures.
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Temples and sacred places were central to Carthaginian religious practices, with elaborate structures dedicated to various deities. Interaction with gods included prayers, offerings, and sacrifices, the latter sometimes extending to controversial practices like infant sacrifice, subject to ongoing scholarly debate. The priesthood, organized in a hierarchical structure, played a pivotal role in regulating and facilitating religious customs. The religion of Carthage evolved over time, reflecting the dynamic interplay between indigenous beliefs and external influences from the wider Mediterranean world.
Top image: A digital representation of a vibrant ancient temple, possibly of the Carthage religion. Source: Kristian/Adobe Stock