After a year's excavations on a Panic site on S.Antioco Island, off S.W.Sardinia, archaeologists this?
After a year's excavations on a Panic site on S.Antioco Island, off S.W.Sardinia, archaeologists this month did some quick reckoning on a grim subject - the ancient cult of sacrificing first-born children of noble families to Tanit. Goddess of Fertility. The count: in 1900 square yards of digging they had brought to light 700 cinerary urns, some still containing pieces of clothing.
Archaeologist Barreca, poring over the urns and stones of the sacred enclosure, calculated the oldest reached back 900 years BC. Deciphering votive inscriptions, he spelled out a story of some 500 years of baby killing. the inscription most recently uncovered began: "To the great Tanit .. the sacrifice that vowed Ghersakon, son of 'Ar ..."
Last May digging in the sacred enclosure revealed a large stone bearing a hewn image of the Goddess, her hands clasped over her bosom. The archaeologists unearthed at that time twenty urns containing the bones of twenty babies.
By trowel and spade they uncovered a wall. Then they discovered an outer wall, indicating a later expansion of the enclosure.
Their opinion: the sacrificial enclosure-known as a tophet - is the most ancient and important of the Panic period in Italy. The site is on an old Carthaginian settlement that in its heyday as Sulci had a population of 10,000. With the Roman Occupation, the custom of human sacrifices ended.