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Benhisa inscription

Benhisa inscription CIS I 124

The Benhisa inscription, CIS I 124, is Punic funeral inscription found in Malta in 1761. It mentions the name Hannibal, which garnered significant scholarly interest.[1]

It is engraved on a block of stone measuring approximately 26 cm x 26 cm, containing four lines of which the end is missing (the left part was broken on its transfer to Paris).[1]

It was sent to Paris in 1810 and it remains in the Cabinet des Médailles of the National Library.[1]


The inscription was discovered in the region of Bengħisa (archaically spelt Benhisa), just south of Birżebbuġa, at the south-eastern tip of the island. It was found in a cave-vault with whitewashed walls, dug in a rock, the stone on which was engraved the text in Phoenician characters in a niche carved in the rock, in the interior part of the cave, where also lay a corpse, near which a lamp had been discovered.[1]


Multiple sketches were published:[1]

  • Abela, G.F. (1772). Malta illustrata... del commendatore F. Giovanfrancesco Abela,... corretta, accresciuta, e continovata dal conte Giovannantonio Ciantar,... con le piante di Malta, e della sua antica citta'... Malta illustrata... del commendatore F. Giovanfrancesco Abela,... corretta, accresciuta, e continovata dal conte Giovannantonio Ciantar,... con le piante di Malta, e della sua antica citta' (in Italian). per F. Giovanni Mallia. (pages 198-199 and 465–466)
    • Ciantar's copy was studied by Jean-Jacques Barthélémy, the decipherer of Phoenician, in Journal des Savants, December 1761, p. 871-872
  • Swinton, John. “An Attempt to Explain a Punic Inscription, Lately Discovered in the Island of Malta. In a Letter to the Reverend Thomas Birch, D. D. Secret. R. S. from the Reverend John Swinton, B. D. of Christ-Church, Oxon. F. R. S. and Member of the Etruscan Academy of Cortona in Tuscany.” Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775) 53 (1763): 274–93.
  • Castello, Gabriele Lancillotto (1769). Siciliae et objacentium insularum veterum inscriptionum nova collectio, prolegom. et notis illustrata (in Latin). cajet. Mar. Bentivenga. (pages 293 and p. 318 in the 1784 edition)
  • Drummond, Willian (1810). An Essay on a Punic Inscription Found in the Island of Malta. A.J. Valpy [and] sold by W.H Lunn.

It does not appear in the Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften or Cooke's Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Sznycer Maurice. Antiquités et épigraphie nord-sémitiques. In: École pratique des hautes études. 4e section, Sciences historiques et philologiques. Annuaire 1973-1974. 1974. pp. 131-153.
  2. ^ Caruana, A.A. (1882). Report on the Phoœnician and Roman antiquities in ... Malta. p. 36-37.
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Benhisa inscription
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