Archaeologists from Lebanon and Spain have uncovered ritual burial pots dating back to at least 900 BCE. They are of Phoenician origin, a mysterious group of peoples who came from the north African coast lands and Mediterranean Europe in the very early history of Byblos, Tyre, Sidon, modern day northern Israel and Syria.
The Phoenicians were thought to originally be a seafaring people adept at circumventing the Mediterranean Ocean in their skillfully made crafts and were known to be traders as well as mauraders. From these jars we now know they also had an after-death belief system.
The more than 100 jars of various sizes were used in ritual burials of the dead. The larger jars contained the bones of the dead, left after creamation of the corpse. The smaller jars were created to contain the soul of the departed and are naturally empty.
The Phoenicians were known to have inhabited the coastal areas of Lebanon and parts of modern day Israel and Syria as long ago as 1,500 BCE and ruled the area until at least 900 BCE. Some scholars believe that the ancient enemies of Israel, known as the Philistines, may have been in-land off-shoots of the Phoenicians.
“These discoveries help researchers who work on past Phoenician colonies in Spain, Italy and Tunisia, to pin down a large number of their habits and traditions,” said Maria Eugenia Aubet, the Spanish team leader. “Especially since there are few studies of the Phoenicians in their motherland ‘Lebanon’,” Aubet added.
[Photos courtesy of Reuters]