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Cemetery or sacrifice? Infant burials at the Carthage Tophet: Age estimations attest to infant sacrifice at the Carthage Tophet

  • Patricia Smith (a1), Lawrence E. Stager (a2), Joseph A. Greene (a2) and Gal Avishai (a1)

The recent article on the Carthage Tophet infants by Schwartz et al. (2012) takes issue with our paper (Smith et al. 2011) that claims the Carthaginians practiced infant sacrifice. Both studies were carried out on the same sample of cremated infant remains excavated by the ASOR Punic project between 1975 and 1980 (Stager 1982). We examined the contents of 334 urns while Schwartz et al. (2012) examined the same sample plus an additional fourteen urns (N = 348). We differed, however, in our conclusions regarding the age distribution of the infants and the extent to which it supported or refuted claims that Tophet infants were sacrificed. This note explains why we think that Schwartz et al. (2012) erred in their age assessments and introduces additional evidence to show that the age distribution of the Tophet infants supports our contention of infant sacrifice.

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