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Baalshillem Temple Boy

The statue in the Beirut National Museum, with the inscription shown on the plinth

The Baalshillem Temple Boy, or Ba'al Sillem Temple Boy, is a votive statue of a "temple boy" with a Phoenician inscription known as KAI 281. It was found along with a number of other votive statues of children near the canal in the Temple of Eshmun in 1963-64 by Maurice Dunand, and is currently in the National Museum of Beirut.[1]

The base of the statue was found separately; as late as 1974 Everett Mullen wrote that: "Only the base of the inscription was found; it has a large cavity at the top where the image of the squatting child would be expected on analogy with the other images which were found alongside this inscription."[2]

The inscription mentions four previously unknown names of Kings of Sidon, which correspond exactly with those from known Sidonian coins.[3][4] The inscription has been translated as follows:

This (is the) statue that Baalshillem, son of King Ba'na, king of the Sidonians, son of King Abdamun, king of the Sidonians, son of King Baalshillem, king of the Sidonians, gave to his lord Eshmun at the YDLL spring. May he bless him.

The inscription is dated from the end of the 5th century BCE. Nothing else is known about the kings mentioned in the inscription.[5]

According to Josette Elayi, the statue represents Abdashtart I, who was the son of Baalshillem II.[6] The statue is 35cm high.


  1. ^ Vadim S. Jigoulov (8 April 2016). The Social History of Achaemenid Phoenicia: Being a Phoenician, Negotiating Empires. Routledge. pp. 56–. ISBN 978-1-134-93809-4.
  2. ^ Mullen, Everett T. “A New Royal Sidonian Inscription.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 216 (1974): 25–30.
  3. ^ Betlyon, J. (2005). A People Transformed Palestine in the Persian Period. Near Eastern Archaeology, 68(1/2), 4-58. Retrieved September 2, 2020, from; "A common Sidonian "double-shekel" depicted the war galley of the Sidonian navy at sea on the obverse, with a reverse type showing the Persian Great King riding in a chariot drawn by horses and followed by the King of Sidon in his role as high priest of the royal cult. These coins bore abbreviations of the names of various Sidonian kings and dating systems that corresponded to regnal years. An inscription from the Bostan esh-Sheikh, near Sidon, was published in the 1960s and mentioned several previously unknown names of Sidonian kings. These rulers' names correspond amazingly with the king list from the aforementioned inscription"
  4. ^ Teixidor, Javier. “Bulletin d’épigraphie Sémitique 1972.” Syria 49, no. 3/4 (1972): 413–49; Number 115 and accompanying photo "L'inscription, en une seule ligne longue de 50 cm, est incisée sur un bloc de marbre qui supporte la statuette d'un enfant accroupi.
  5. ^ Hélène Sader (23 November 2019). The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia. SBL Press. pp. 109–. ISBN 978-0-88414-406-9.
  6. ^ Elayi, J. (2006). An updated chronology of the reigns of phoenician kings during the Persian period (539-333 BCE); "This last king devoted to the god Eshmun a so-called “temple-boy” statue, representing his unnamed son, still a baby.... As has been shown, Abdashtart I was the baby represented by the temple-boy statue mentioned above."


  • Editio princeps: Dunand, M., 1965 Nouvelles inscriptions pheniciennes du temple d'Echmoun a Bostan ech-Cheikh, pres Sidon. Bulletin du Musee de Beyrouth XVIII: 105-9
  • Hadzisteliou-Price, T. (1969). The Type of the Crouching Child and the 'Temple Boys'. The Annual of the British School at Athens, 64, 95-111. Retrieved September 2, 2020, from
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Baalshillem Temple Boy
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