Religious Studies

Matthew M. McCarty

Africa Punica? Child Sacrifice and Other Invented Traditions in Early Roman Africa

Volume 3 () / Issue 3, pp. 393-428 (36)

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The religious life of Roman Africa (like many provinces) is often cast as the simple persistence of Iron Age Punic or Libyan practices, perhaps glossed with a 'Romanised' veneer: 'tradition' is treated as an explanation of distinct regional patterns of cult practice. Yet traditions must be actively maintained, and each performance of a ritual is an innovative re-imagination of past performances. A new look at the chronology and nature of practices and institutions in Africa most often treated as Punic survivals – child sacrifice and magistrates called sufetes – suggests that these were not continuities, but rather re-creations of Punic pasts, invented in response to the development of Roman hegemony in the first century BCE. Historicising these institutions provides an important new look at the dynamics of religion and Roman imperialism in the late Hellenistic period.

Matthew M. McCarty No current data available.