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Child Sacrifice at Carthage: The Evidence Revisited, part four

Updated on March 27, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

VI. Conclusion

In looking at the evidence again and re-examining it from a different perspective it is clear to see that those who support the idea that the Carthaginians practiced child sacrifice do not have the physical evidence they claim they have.

It is mostly speculative theory and assumption coupled with leaps to conclusions without verification they turn to in justifying their stance. They also use a lot of eisegesis to support their ideas. A picture of an adult holding a child is not evidence of child sacrifice but it is evidence of an adult holding a child in ancient times.

A carved picture of a sheep is not evidence of child sacrifice but it is evidence of the fact that domesticated sheep were present or known in the ancient world. Without the correct textual information to tell us what these images mean, that is as far as we can take them. To read anything more into them is bias and wrong.

But what does this issue mean to the modern day believer? There are several lessons to be taken away from this discussion and the many articles and books written on the issue.

#1. We must find and learn the truth. Jesus and God are truth thus we must represent that fact even in our historical studies. To do otherwise undermines our message and Christ’s claims about Himself.

#2. Bias and prejudice permeate the archaeological field and we must not take scholars at their word, even if they have pages and pages of references cited in their work. If it isn’t true, then it is wrong. Also we do not know when they are omitting opposing information when it doesn’t sit their purpose thus we must study to learn all the facts.

#3. We cannot take ancient historians at their word because we do not know their motivations nor can we verify much of what they claim.

#4. People get the opportunity to defend themselves. To withhold that defense is equal to subjecting them to a kangaroo court or vigilante justice.

#5. What artifacts and other pieces of evidence say depends upon who is wielding it. It takes honesty to get to the truth.

#6. It is wrong to mis-use the Bible to support one’s theory.

Can we say unequivocally that child sacrifice took place in ancient Cartage? No for that would be like saying that because a few modern people practiced abortion in Fargo north Dakota all their people did and it was approved by the city officials.

Not everyone practices or approves of abortion thus even though there may be evidence that some people do doesn’t mean they all did or that it was an accepted practice. We cannot condemn al people based upon the actions of a few.

BUT we cannot say that child sacrifice did not take place either. Even though there is nothing specific stating that it took place there is also nothing specific stating it didn’t. We cannot prove that all the people rejected that form of worship or that some were deceived into doing it by the priests of the time.

When priests hold to a ritual it doesn’t mean that the people willingly went along with the practice. Their own parental nature would not allow it to take place. They would have to be convinced that it was a good idea which means that they were deceived and this is an attitude ignored by the archaeologists researching this issue.

Just like many people today who are deceived and convinced that having an abortion is a good thing. As believers, we do not condemn, we do not judge we practice what Jesus and God taught so that the world can experience His grace, His love and forgiveness.

If the Carthaginians practiced child sacrifice there is nothing we can do about it now. They are dead and any punishment or action taken today against them means nothing, even the judgmental attitude of supposed Christians. What we can do though is learn how not to act through this issue and extend the teachings of Christ to all those who do not follow His ways.

We pray for them, we treat them like Christ wants we help them when they need it and so on but we do not look down upon them nor judge them for our lives are no better than theirs and we received grace, love and forgiveness for our sinful acts thus we must do the same for those who do not live by God’s way.

We can’t say for sure what the ancient Carthaginians did with their children (Hartland:2005) people will make their own decisions based upon what little evidence we have but we shouldn’t mis-use the information to fit some ultimate goal when the issue doesn’t fit. Child sacrifice is not abortion and their purposes are different, we should not equate the two practices except to say that both are wrong and sin.


1. An Odyssey Debate: Were Living Children Sacrificed to the Gods? Yes by L. Stager and J. Greene Odyssey Magazine 03:06

2. An Odyssey Debate: Were Children Sacrificed to the Gods? No by M.H. Fanter Odyssey Magazine 03:06

3. Child Sacrifice at Carthage: Religious right or population Control? By L. Stager and S. Wolff BAR 10:01, 1984

4. Evidence of Child Sacrifice Found at Zarapath Bible and Spade 1974/5 Vol. 4

5. Jottings From Jordon BAR Vol. 40

6. Excavations In Zama Reveal That the Carthaginians Did Not Sacrifice Their Children by Piero Bartaloni

7. Carthage: Tophet with Child Sacrifice

8. Child Burials Carthage, Tunisia by Jarrett A. Lobell

9. Child Sacrifice at Carthage 02/07/2010

10 Carthage- Child sacrifice

11 Carthage

12 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean by Phil Harland

13 Discussion forum listing the Biblical references used in this paper

14 Abortion and the Ancient Practice of Child Sacrifice by Andrew White MD

© 2019 David Thiessen


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