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Tophet Carthage.2

Stele with Tanit's symbol in Carthage's Tophet, including a crescent moon over the figure

Tanit[1] was a Phoenician lunar goddess, worshipped as the patron goddess at Carthage. [2] Tanit was worshiped in Punic contexts in the Western Mediterranean, from Malta to Gades into Hellenistic times. From the fifth century BCE onwards Tanit is associated with that of Baal Hammon. She is given the epithet pene baal ("face of Baal") and the title rabat, the female form of rab (chief) (Markoe 2000:130). In North Africa, where the inscriptions and material remains are more plentiful, she was, as well as a consort of Baal Hammon, a heavenly goddess of war, a virginal (not married) mother goddess and nurse, and, less specifically, a symbol of fertility, as are most female forms. Several of the major Greek goddesses were identified with Tanit by the syncretic interpretatio graeca, which recognized as Greek deities in foreign guise the gods of most of the surrounding non-Hellene cultures.

Her shrine excavated at Sarepta in southern Phoenicia revealed an inscription that identified her for the first time in her homeland and related her securely to the Phoenician goddess Astarte (Ishtar).[3] One site where Tanit was uncovered is at Kerkouan, in the Cap Bon peninsula in Tunisia.

The origins of Tanit are to be found in the pantheon of Ugarit, especially in the Ugaritic goddess Anat (Hvidberg-Hansen 1982), a consumer of blood and flesh. There is significant, albeit disputed, evidence, both archaeological and within ancient written sources, pointing towards child sacrifice forming part of the worship of Tanit and Baal Hammon.[4]

Tanit was also a goddess among the ancient Berber people.

Her symbol, found on many ancient stone carvings, appears as a trapezoid/trapezium closed by a horizontal line at the top and surmounted in the middle by a circle: the horizontal arm was often terminated either by two short upright lines at right angles to it or by hooks. Later, the trapezoid/trapezium was frequently replaced by an isosceles triangle. The symbol is interpreted by Hvidberg-Hansen as a woman raising her hands.

In Egyptian, her name means Land of Neith, Neith being a war goddess.

Long after the fall of Carthage, Tanit was still venerated in North Africa under the Latin name of Juno Caelestis, for her identification with the Roman goddess Juno.[5]

In modern times the name, with the spelling "Tanith", has been used as a female given name, both for real people and, more frequently, in occult fiction.


  1. 'TNT in the Phoenician and Punic inscriptions.
  2. F.O. Hvidberg-Hansen, La déesse TNT: une Etude sur la réligion canaanéo-punique (Copenhagen: Gad) 1982, is the standard survey. An extensive critical review by G. W. Ahlström appeared in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 45.4 (October 1986), pp. 311–314.
  3. James B. Pritchard, Recovering Sarepta, a Phoenician City (Princeton: Princeton University Press) 1978.; see Sarepta. The inscription reads TNT TTRT and could identify Tanit as an epithet of Astarte at Sarepta, for the TNT element does not appear in theophoric names in Punic contexts (Ahlström 1986 review, p 314).
  4. Markoe, p. 136
  5. Tate, Karen (2008). Sacred Places of Goddess. CCC Publishing, p. 137. ISBN 1888729112


  • Markoe, Glenn E. (2000). Phoenicians. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22614-3. 

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