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Statue of Astarte, found near Beirut, Lebanon

Roles of Sidon's Chief Deities, Astarte & Eshmun

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Astarte, Phoenician Goddess: Statue of Astarte, Phoenician Goddess found near Beirut, Lebanon

Astarte, Phoenician Goddess: Statue of Astarte, Phoenician Goddess found near Beirut, Lebanon

Source: Jupiter Images

Going back to the 2nd millennium BCE, Sidon's chief deities were Astarte and Eshmun. The root of Eshmun, smn, means "oil" and Eshmun was primarily revered as a god of healing. Like Melqart in Tyre, Eshmun was also venerated as dying and being reborn every year. These names appear throughout Semitic texts over the course of several hundred years and appear to be traditional deities among Semitic peoples in the region.

One interesting fact of religion in Sidon is the absence of any statutes of either Eshmun or Astarte from the area. It is true that the place has been heavily picked over and little of any archaeological relics remain, the absence of any cultic figures stands out as unusual. Instead we have empty thrones and, eventually, unadorned marker stones representing the deities. This aniconic tradition indicates a strong aversion to direct figural representations of deities which has been made most famous in the Semitic religion followed by the Israelites to the south.

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