perdured in Cyrenaica as the heritage of Ptolemaic rule (322-96 bce).19 Grave goods are not buried within the tomb but there are tables (mensae) for the living who visited and feasted the dead.20
Punic religion survived in cities, often assimilated to Roman cults, and, in rural areas, in less assimilated forms.21 While large Romanised cities had Capitoline temples dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, statues of Ba'al Hammon were still carved well into the Christian era. Tanit, the reigning goddess, was assimilated to Juno; Melqart to Hercules; and Frugifer, an agricultural deity, to Pluto, but it was grave Saturn, not Jupiter, who was chosen as the face of Ba'al. His cult was immensely popular across class lines.22
Sacrifice was integral to Punic religion. Sacrifices were offered by the chief priest of a collegial body.23 Cultic remnants suggest that some sacrifices were to chthonic deities and/or the dead as libations were poured into the ground and food left at tombs.24 Ba'al Hammon presided over graveyards and human sacrifice. Duringperiods of stress, such as from famine and war, offerings were first-born children, but archaeological remains indicate occasional substitution of stillborns, sick older children and small animals.25 How late and widespread human sacrifice continued is unknown, but Roman legislation and Tertullian spoke as if it extended into the first century ce.26 After immolation, ashes were buried in urns. Otherwise the dead were buried in stone coffins or beneath rocks and clay tiles with few grave goods.
As in Rome, priesthoods held for a year - often by members of the same family - served as steps along the cursus honorum. Holding these posts was an important way of identifying with Rome. The priesthood of the imperial cult was the epitome of this practice, the summit of an African's career.27 It was introduced, probably under Vespasian, in order to provide religious underpinning for Romanisation.28 Thus, it represented both Roman religion and political hegemony.
19 MacKendrick, North African stones speak, 121-5.
20 Ennabli, Carthage retrouvee, 53.
21 On religion in Africa, see Rives, Religion and authority, ch. 1.
22 Rives, Religion and authority, 142-6.
23 Sznycer, 'La religion punique', 112.
24 Picard, Les religions de l'Afrique antique, 33.
25 E.g. the 200 children sacrificed in the fourth century bce, when Agathocles of Syracuse and his troops ravaged Carthage. See Diod. Sic. 10.20; Sznycer, 'La religion punique', 114-16.
26 Tert. Apol. 9; cf. Picard, Les religions de l'Afrique antique, 103.
27 Raven, Rome in Africa, 149.
28 Ferguson, Religions of the Roman empire, 95; Taylor, Divinity of the Roman emperor, 212.
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