Carthage | Child Sacrifice

The backlash against the notion of Carthaginian child sacrifice began in the second half of the 20th century and was led by scholars from Tunisia and Italy, the very countries in which tophets have been found.

Dr Quinn added: ‘Carthage was far bigger than Athens and for many centuries much more important than Rome, but it is something of a forgotten city today.

‘If we accept that child sacrifice happened on some scale, it begins to explain why the colony was founded in the first place.

‘Perhaps the reason the people who established Carthage and its neighbours left their original home of Phoenicia – modern-day Lebanon – was because others there disapproved of their unusual religious practice.

‘Child abandonment was common in the ancient world, and human sacrifice is found in many historical societies, but child sacrifice is relatively uncommon. Perhaps the future Carthaginians were like the Pilgrim Fathers leaving from Plymouth – they were so fervent in their devotion to the gods that they weren’t welcome at home any more.

‘Dismissing the idea of child sacrifice stops us seeing the bigger picture.’

Greek Dining Habits

The Ancient Greek diet was largely based on products that could be easily cultivated in the country’s landscape. Bread and wine were the basic elements of their diet. Breakfast was eaten before sunrise and consisted of bread dipped into wine. Lunch also included bread and wine with figs, olives or dried fish. The main meal of the day was supper that included vegetables, fruits, fish, and honey cakes. Honey was used as a sweetener, as at the time, sugar was still unknown in Greece.

Wine was the main drink of ancient Greeks and was mixed with water. They avoided drinking milk as it was considered barbaric. Milk was used in the production of the cheese.

Meat was very expensive and a sign of wealth. It was only available to poor people during religious festivals, when cows or pigs were sacrificed to the gods, and their meat was cooked and handed out to the public. The main source of protein was the fish.