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CALL. 24.03.2020: [PANEL 2] The Archaeology of the Tophet (2021 AIA/SCS) - Chicago (IL, USA)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Hilton Chicago (Chicago, IL, USA)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Brien Garnand (Howard), Stephen Collins-Elliott (UT Knoxville) The Archaeology of the Maghrib Interest Group



The so-called tophet is one of the most studied and fiercely debated components of Phoenician-Punic civilization, yet it remains poorly understood. The literary sources are tendentious, the archaeological remains often poorly recorded, and the epigraphic texts terse and formulaic. For about a century, scholarly debate has focused primarily on whether these open-air votive precincts were the locus of ritual, sacrificial infanticide, or rites of passage, burial, or some combination of these activities. The question of cultural continuity, concomitant with Phoenician colonization, has similarly been a point of interest. Yet, these sanctuaries are open to broader questions than just the search to confirm or refute instances of ritual killing or long-term connections between western Phoenician-Punic settlements and the eastern Mediterranean.

This colloquium therefore not only brings to light current fieldwork on precincts in North Africa, Sardinia, Sicily, and Malta, but seeks to broaden the investigation of religious practices associated with them by asking new questions about their function and role in the social, cultural, and economic landscapes of the Central Mediterranean. Investigation may proceed from an immediate, local context or with a broader regional perspective in mind. In particular, this colloquium seeks to refine the boundaries and coherence of what the tophet represents. To what extent, for example, should the tophet even be associated with Phoenician or Punic identity? If not, what alternative frameworks help us to understand Central Mediterranean religious practices with better accuracy? How should changes in public religious practice be understood with respect to changes in the political landscape of Central Mediterranean? Papers are welcome which address the archaeology of the tophet in any of these aspects.

If you are interested in presenting, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words to We ask that abstracts be submitted by Monday, March 24, 2020, in order to allow the organizers time to submit the colloquia by the AIA’s last deadline. Presenters must have or obtain a membership in the Archaeological Institute of America, although a waiver is available for one-time presenters. For any questions, Please contact Stephen Collins-Elliott (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and Andy Dufton (University of Edinburgh) at

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