Earlier this week The Guardianran a story about human sacrifice and ancient Roman history. During the third century BC, the chief rival of Rome was the city of Carthage on the North African coast.
Carthage was a Phoenician city, and Roman sources always accused the Carthaginians of sacrificing their own children to their gods. I have always believed the Roman stories of Carthaginian child sacrifice, but many scholars dismissed these stories as mere propaganda. They just couldn’t be true.
But some archeologists have been amassing material evidence that seems to support the Roman sources. It looks like the Carthaginians really did sacrifice their children. One of the archeologist told The Guardian that she is experiencing some pushback from her findings.
Quinn said many of her academic colleagues were appalled by her conclusions.
“The feeling that some ultimate taboo is being broken is very strong. It was striking how often colleagues, when they asked what I was working on, reacted in horror and said, ‘Oh no, that’s simply not possible, you must have got it wrong.’”
“We like to think that we’re quite close to the ancient world, that they were really just like us—the truth is, I’m afraid, that they really weren’t.”
Some things are just so horrible that we do not want to think about them. We do not want to believe they are true. This archeologist correctly notes that we ought to look at the Carthaginians honestly. But I think we need to look at ourselves honestly too.