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Catalogue of Punic Stelae in The British Museum

Catalogue of Punic Stelae in The British Museum (Paperback)

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The Phoenicians, renowned for their craft expertise and artistic creations, were also the greatest traders, seafarers and explorers of the ancient world. From their homeland on the coast of Syria and Lebanon, they traveled throughout the Mediterranean, seeking out new markets and establishing colonies, the greatest of which was undoubtedly Carthage on the north coast of Africa. This catalogue discusses some aspects of Carthaginian or 'Punic' culture as shown by the inscribed and carved stones, or stelae, in the British Museum's collections. These stelae were acquired during the 19th century in North Africa, and come mainly from Tunisia.The majority of the stelae have votive or dedicatory inscriptions in Punic and some of them are thought to come from tophets, burial precincts that are characteristic of Phoenician settlements in the west Mediterranean. The stelae provide a window on the religion and language of the Carthaginians, both of which are still imperfectly understood.

They date from between the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD, and in the catalogue they are divided into Punic and Neo-Punic, according to whether they pre- or post-date the Roman sack of Carthage in 146 BC. The Catalogue describes each stela, giving transcriptions and translations of the Punic and neo-Punic inscriptions, plus measurements and bibliographical references. Every stela is photographically illustrated to facilitate reading the inscriptions.

Carole Mendleson was a Curator in the Department of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum for many years until her retirement in 1997. She is the joint editor (with R D Barnett) of Tharros: A Catalogue of Material in the British Museum from Phoenician and Other Tombs at Tharros, Sardinia (British Museum Publications 1987).

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