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Mdina steles

Mdina steles
The surviving stele (61A)
Createdc. 550 BC
Northern Region, Malta
Present locationValletta, South Eastern Region, Malta

The Mdina steles are two Phoenician language inscriptions found near the city of Mdina (ancient Maleth), Malta, in 1816. The findspot is disputed; the oldest known description places it near the Tal-Virtù Church. The surviving stele is currently in the National Museum of Archaeology, Malta; the other stele has been considered lost for more than a century.[1]

They were widely publicized by Wilhelm Gesenius as Melitensia Tertia and Melitensia Quarta ("Maltese 3rd" and "Maltese 4th"). They are also known as KAI 61A,B or CIS i 123A,B.

Stele 61B has been dated to the sixth century BCE on the basis of letter forms.[2]

Text of the inscriptions

The two inscriptions read:[3][4]

(A, lines 1-6) NṢB MLK / B‘L ’Š Š/M NḤM LB/‘L-ḤMN ’/DN K ŠM‘ / QL DBRY (This is) a stele (commemorating) a molk-Ba‘al (or molkomor?) that Naḥḥum presented to Baal-ḥammon, his Lord, because he has heard the sound of his word(s) (i.e., Ba‘al had answered Naḥḥum's prayers).
(B, lines 1-6) NṢB MLK / ’MR ’Š Š/[M ’R]Š LB/‘L-[ḤMN] ’DN [K Š]M‘ / QL [DB]RY (This is) a stele (commemorating) a «molkomor» that ’Aris presented to Baal-ḥammon, his Lord, because he has heard the sound of his word(s).

A "molkomor" (as in B) was a "substitute" sacrificial offering to Ba‘al of a lamb instead of a child. The word is a composite of molk or Moloch, traditionally the Punic god Ba‘al but more probably meaning "(human) sacrifice (of a child)",[5] and ’MR (cf. Hebrew ’immēr), "lamb".[6] Another possible reading is "MLK’SR", meaning Moloch-Osiris, who was also worshiped by the Phoenicians.[7]

It is not clear whether molk-Ba‘al in A is a variant of molkomor,[8] or that 61A refers to a real child sacrifice, while 61B refers to a substitute offering.[9]



  1. ^ Vella, Nicholas C, Vases, bones and two Phoenician inscriptions : an assessment of a discovery made in Malta in 1816, Ritual, religion and reason : studies in the ancient world in honour of Paolo Xella / edited by Oswald Loretz ... [et al.]. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2013. p. 589-605. ISBN 9783868350876
  2. ^ Dussaud, René (1946). "Précisions épigraphiques sur les sacrifices puniques d'enfants". Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. 90 (3): 371-387: pp. 377-378. Retrieved 21 May 2022. (Persée)
  3. ^ Donner, Herbert; Rölig, Wolfgang (2002). Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften (5 ed.). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p. I, 17.
  4. ^ Krahmalkov, Charles R. (2000). Phoenician-Punic Dictionary. Leuven: Peeters / Departement Oosterse Studies. ISBN 90-429-0770-3.
  5. ^ Dussaud (1946).
  6. ^ García y Bellido, Antonio (1967). Les religions orientales dans l'Espagne romaine. Leiden: Brill. p. 4. ISBN 978-90-04-30826-8.
  7. ^ Slouschz, Nahoum (1942). Thesaurus of Phoenician Inscriptions. Dvir. pp. 125–127.
  8. ^ Krahmalkov (2000).
  9. ^ Dussaud (1946)
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Mdina steles
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