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Phoenicians
Religion

Detail of the sarcophagus of Echmunazaar of Sidon (6th century BC)

According to the Old Testament, approximately 966 BC, when Salomon, son of King David, took the Hebrew throne, a temple in Jerusalem was intended to be built. Since Salomon did not have workers and material, he required the help of Hiram, king of Tyre at that time, who supplied him with architects and cedar wood to build a temple in exchange to wheat, olive oil and other agricultural products.

The Temple of Salomon was designed according to Phoenician parameters. One may suppose that its biblical description would give an idea of how Phoenician temples looked like. In the Phoenician religion, specifically, there are three main gods sometimes known by different names.

Daily objects used by Phoenicians found in tombs located in the area

El (called Baal in Sidon) was the major god in the Phoenician pantheon. He represented a sun god that sometimes appeared in the form of a bull. His wife was called Astarte (Baalat in Byblos), a mother goddess that lived in the sea, and his son was Baal (Adonis in Byblos), the god of storm and mountains.

In spite of El’s importance, Baal was the most worshiped god among Phoenicians. He was also worshiped in the Phoenician colonies, especially in Carthage. People believed that, when the snow on the Lebanese mountains melted down and made the water of the rivers cleaner, it actually meant that Baal was reborn, and the Phoenicians celebrated the event once a year.

The Phoenician religious ceremonies took place in temples and also outdoors. Sacrifice of sheep and children were significant demonstrations of their religiosity as well. Regarding the handling of the dead, it is known that the Phoenicians buried the dead in tombs excavated on the side of the mountains near the cities. Men were buried with their weapons and women took to the grave ceramic vessels and other ornaments.

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