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Encyclopedia > Baal Hammon

Ba‘al Hammon (more properly Ba‘al Ḥammon or possibly Ba‘al Ḥamon) was the chief god of Carthage, generally identified by the Greeks with Cronus and by the Romans with Saturn.

Ba‘al of course means 'lord', but the meaning of Hammon or Hamon is dubious. In the 19th century when Ernest Renan excavated the ruins of Hammon (Ḥammon), the modern Umm al-‘Awamid between Tyre and Acre, he found two Phoenician inscriptions dedicated to El_Hammon. Since El was normally identified with Cronus and Ba‘al Hammon was also identified with Cronus, it seemed possible they could be equated. More often a connection with Hebrew/Phoenician ḥammān 'brazier' has been proposed. Frank Moore Cross argued for a connection to Khamōn, the Ugaritic and Syria from Cilicia based on the occurrence of an Ugaritic description of El as the one of the Mountain Haman.

Classical sources relate how the Carthaginians burned their children as offerings to Ba‘al Hammon. See Moloch for a discussion of these traditions and conflicting thoughts on the matter. Such a devouring of children fits well with the Greek traditions of Cronus.

Scholars tend to see Ba‘al Hammon has more or less identical with the god El who was also generally identified with Cronus and Saturn. However Yigdal Ydin thought him to be a moon god. Edward Lipinski identifies him with the god Dagon in his Dictionnaire de la civilisation phenicienne et punique (1992: ISBN 2503500331). Inscriptions about Punic deities tend to be rather uninformative.

In Carthage and North Africa Ba‘al Hammon was especially associated with the ram and was worshipped also as Ba‘al Qarnaim 'Lord of Two Horns' in an open-air sancutary at Jebel Bu Kornein 'the two-horned hill' across the bay from Carthage.

Ba‘al Hammon's female cult partner was Tanit. He was probably not ever identified with Ba‘al Melqart though one finds this equation in older scholarship.

External link

  • Scarce Punic images of Baal Hammon described. (http://www.barca.fsnet.co.uk/baal-hammon.htm)



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