The dispersal of the finds, the heterogenous nature of the associated amphoras, the figurines’ reproduction from preexisting terracottas over and over again, the varied origins of the clay, and their manufacturing techniques all suggest the Shavei Zion assemblage was accumulated over a long period of human maritime activities, indicating they were most likely not part of the cargo of a single 5th century BCE ship. So how did they get to the bottom of the sea?Three takeaways from this essay.
1. The implication (I don't think this is said directly) is that this spot off of Shavei Zion was a Phoenician cultic site where people dropped the figurines over a period of centuries.
2. The ritual may have involved offering the figurines in place of a child. This would represent a watering down, so to speak, of the child sacrifice rites that continued to be rife at Carthage.
3. The figurines may have represented the Tanit (Tannit)/Baal Hamon Phoenician Tophet cult rather than Tanit herself. Does that confirm or weaken the case that Tanit was worshipped in Phoenicia as well as Carthage? I'm not sure. More on Tanit here and links. That post also links to previous posts on the Shavei Zion figurines.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.