Temples of Astarte across the Mediterranean

Esteban, C.; Iborra Pellín, D.
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Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, 2016, Vol. 16, No. 4, 161-166.

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We present a compilation of orientations of seven temples dedicated to the Phoenician goddess Astarte across the Mediterranean. The chronology of the earliest temple corresponds to the Early Bronze Age – temple of Baalat Gebal at Byblos, 2800 BCE – but the rest dating back to the Iron Age, from IX to IV BCE. We find that most temples follow a sun-rising or moon-rising orientation pattern but three of them show westerly orientations in the range of azimuth between 232 and 239. These values are consistent with the orientation custom found by Esteban & Escacena (2013a, b) in a sample of Iron Age sanctuaries of the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula that show direct influence by Phoenician colonisation. One of the potential targets of these westerly orientations is the setting of Venus at its extreme southerly position. This possibility can be related to the well-known ties between the Phoenician goddess Astarte and planet Venus.