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Pricot de Sainte-Marie steles

AO 5137 (CIS I 585) on display at the Louvre in 2022
Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum CIS I 1885, Pricot de Sainte-Marie (BN no. 401)

The Pricot de Sainte-Marie steles are more than 2,000 Punic funerary steles found in Carthage (modern Tunisia) near the ancient forum by French diplomat Jean-Baptiste Evariste Charles Pricot de Sainte-Marie in the 1870s. The find was dramatic both in the scale—the largest single discovery of Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions—and also due to the finds almost being lost in the sinking of the French ironclad Magenta at Toulon.

The steles were found in their secondary location, having been re-used as building material for a wall in a structure erected after the city had been destroyed by the Romans.

The steles provide evidence of Carthaginian religion prior to the Roman occupation.

Pricot de Sainte-Marie obtained financial support from the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres to create a complication for publication in the Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum.[1][2] He took stampings of all the 2,170 steles he excavated, and had sent these to France prior to the sinking of the Magenta. They were later compiled and published in the Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum.[1]

After the sinking of the Magenta, a large number of the steles were recovered. They now reside at the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Louvre.[1]


Around 1,500 of the steles were recovered shortly after the sinking.

On 19 April 1994, the French Groupe de Recherche en Archéologie Navale led by Max Guérout, located the Magenta 50 feet below the surface, under four feet of sediment. The expedition had been catalyzed in 1992 by historian Serge Lancel and an amateur French archaeologist, Jean-Pierre Laporte. Guérout's team carried out 843 dives between 1994 and 1998, recovering 115 steles and fragments from the wreckage. Guérout estimated in 1999 that nearly 400 more steles may remain in the wreck.[3][4]

Examples of inscriptions

Text KAI 86 (= CIS I 264 = KI[5] 76) reads:[6][7]

(line 1)   LRBT LTNT PNB‘L   [Stele dedicated] to the Lady Tinnīt-Phanebal KAI86
(1-2) W/L’DN LB‘L ḤMN and to the Lord Baal-hammon,
(2-3) ’Š N/DR ‘BDMLKT that Abdmilkot has vowed,
(3-4) BN ’ŠTR/TYTN the son of Astartyaton,
(4) ’Š B‘M RŠ MLQRT a member of the people of Rūs Milqart [= Heraclea Minoa, Sicily].

KAI 87 (= CIS I 221 = KI 80). Ḥōt-’Ilot, the woman who ordered this stele, belonged to Carthage's elite: both her father and grandfather were head of state in Carthage (suffes):[6][7]

(lines 1-2)   [L]RBT LTMT / [P]NB‘L   [Stele dedicated] [to] the Lady Ti[nn]īt-[Ph]anebal KAI87
(2-3) WL’D/N LBḤLMN and to the Lord Baal-hammon,
(3-4) ’Š / N‘DR ḤTLT that Ḥōt-’Ilot has vowed,
(4-5) BT / ḤN’ ’ŠPṬ the daughter of Hanno the suffes,
(5-6) BN / ‘ZMLK ’ŠPṬ the son of ‘Az-Milk the suffes.

KAI 88 (= CIS I 1885 = KI 83):[6][7]

(line 1)   LRBT LTNT PNB‘L   [Stele dedicated] to the Lady Tinnīt-Phanebal KAI 88
(1-2) WL’/[DN] LB‘L ḤMN and to the L[ord] Baal-hammon,
(2-3) ’Š NDR/’ [M]TNB‘L ’ŠT ‘BDM/LQRT that [M]attanbal has vowed, the wife of Abdmilqart,
(4) BN B‘LḤN’ the son of Baalhanno,
(4-5) BN / BD‘ŠTRT the grandson of Bodastart (Bostar);
(5) K ŠM’ QL’ for He [the god] heard her [Mattanbal's] voice (prayer).
(6) YBRK’ May He bless her!

The proper names in those inscriptions are common ones. Their meanings are usually evident: ’Abdmilkot ("servant of the Queen"), Astartyaton ("Astarte has given"), Ḥōt-’Ilot ("’Ilot is [my] sister"), Hanno and Baalhanno ("he/Baal has shown him favor"), ‘Az-Milk ("Strong is [the] King"), Mattanbal ("gift of Baal"), and Bodastart ("in the service of Astarte").[7]



In all, Pricot de Sainte-Marie documented 2,576 Carthaginian tombstones:

  • 184 in private collections (see below)[1]
  • 19 excavated 1874-75 sent to the Louvre[1]
  • 2170 excavated 1874-75, stampings sent to the Bibliotheque Nationale[1]
  • 203 further steles sent in 1878[8]

Private collections

Pricot de Sainte-Marie documented 184 steles in private collections:[1]

Collections Khaznadar (Palais de la Manouba) Engley Tulin de la Tunisie Gouvet Fenner Abbe Bourgade Rubichon Chevarrier Lunel Bottary Weber De Touzon (Garden de la Chapelle Saint-Louis) Total
Number of inscriptions 124 5 4 2 9 14 2 1 2 1 2 18 184

2170 inscription stampings sent to the AIBL

Pricot de Sainte-Marie had taken stampings of all the steles he excavated, and had sent these to France prior to the sinking of the Magenta. They were later compiled and published in the Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum.[1]

Dates inscriptions received by Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres Inscription number
6 Nov 1874 1874, p. 314. 1 to 34
(20 Nov)? 35 to 54
(27 Nov)? 55 to 100
4 Dec 1874 1874, p. 315. 101 to 150
11 Dec 1874 1874, p. 316. 151 to 200
18 Dec 1874 1874, p. 317-318. 151 to 200
18 Dec 1874 201 to 300
8 Jan 1875 1874, p. 2. 301 to 350
22 Jan 1875 1875, p. 4. 351 to 500
29 Jan 1875 1875, p. 5. 501 to 600
29 Jan 1875 601 to 700
5 Feb 1875 1875, p. 6. 701 to 800
12 Feb 1875 1875, p. 7. 801 to 901
19 Feb 1875 1875, p. 8. 902 to 950
12 Mar 1875 1875, p. 11. 951 to 1000
(19 ou 26 Mar 1875) ? 1001 to 1100
2 Apr 1875 1875, p. 95. 1101 to 1200
2 Apr 1875 1201 to 1300
23 Apr 1875 1875, p. 98. 1301 to 1500
30 Apr 1875 1875, p. 99. 1501 to 1600
21 May 1875 1875, p. 103 1601 to 1900
4 Jun 1875 1875, p. 107. 1901 to 2000
13 Aug 1875 1875, p. 195. 2001 to 2082
12 Nov 1875 1875, p. 292. 2083 to 2133
10 Dec 1875 1875, p. 297. 2134 to 2147
(17-24 Dec 1875) ? 2148 to 2152
14 Jan 1876 1876, p. 5. 2153 to 2170


Later concordances

Image Discovered Date Location Found Current Location Concordance
An inscription 1874 Carthage 86 I 264 76
An inscription Carthage 87 I 221 80
An inscription Carthage 88 I 1885 83


  • de Sainte-Marie, J.B.E.C.P. (1876). Les ruines de Carthage (in French). Aux Bureaux de l'Explorateur. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  • de Sainte-Marie, É.C.P. (1884). Mission à Carthage (in French). E. Leroux. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  • Laporte Jean-Pierre. Carthage: les stèles Sainte-Marie. In: Bulletin de la Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France, 1999, 2002. pp. 133-146. DOI: 10.3406/bsnaf.2002.10363
  • LAPORTE, Jean-Pierre (2017-04-10). "Les Pricot de Sainte-Marie, père et fils, et l'archéologie de la Tunisie et de Carthage". (in French). Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  • Lancel Serge. La fouille de l'épave du Magenta et le sauvetage de sa cargaison archéologique. In: Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 139ᵉ année, N. 3, 1995. pp. 813-816. DOI: 10.3406/crai.1995.15521
  • Berger, Philippe (1876). "Lettre à M. Fr. Lenormant". NN (in French). doi:10.11588/DIGLIT.25049.46. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  • Lenormant, F. (1876). "Quelques observations sur symboles religieux des stèles puniques, [2]". NN (in French). doi:10.11588/DIGLIT.25049.56. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  • Berger, Philippe (1877). "Lettre à M. Fr. Lenormant sur les représentations figurées de stèles puniques de la Bibliothèque Nationale, [1]". NN (in French). doi:10.11588/DIGLIT.25600.8. Retrieved 2022-10-05.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h LAPORTE, Jean-Pierre (2017-04-10). "Les Pricot de Sainte-Marie, père et fils, et l'archéologie de la Tunisie et de Carthage". (in French). Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  2. ^ Renan's description in the CIS can be found at: Pars 1, Tomus 1: Fasc. 2 (p. 274-286), as well as Pars 1, Tomus 2: Fasc. 1 (p. 39)
  3. ^ Harrington, Spencer P.M. "Sunken Frigate Yields Carthaginian Artifacts". Archaeology Magazine Archive. Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  4. ^ Audran, Gwendal (2022-05-18). "Découverte sous-marine avec le Nouveau Balaguier". La Seyne-sur-Mer (in French). Retrieved 2022-10-05.
  5. ^ Lidzbarski, Mark (1907). Kanaanäische Inschriften (moabitisch, althebräisch, phönizisch, punisch). Giessen: Töpelmann. Retrieved 27 November 2022. (Internet Archive)
  6. ^ a b c Donner, Herbert; Rölig, Wolfgang (2002). Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften (5 ed.). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. pp. I, 21–22.
  7. ^ a b c d Krahmalkov, Charles R. (2000). Phoenician-Punic Dictionary. Leuven: Peeters / Departement Oosterse Studies. ISBN 90-429-0770-3.
  8. ^ CRAI, 1878, p. 72 (séance du 3 mai 1878)
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Pricot de Sainte-Marie steles
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