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Ancient Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos

Consecrated Seat Known as 
“Ashtart’s Throne”
AO 4565
Sully room 17b
Goddess of the Canaanites,
considered the wife of Baal,
Astarte is the Greek name for Ashtoreth.
She has taken her legacy from the Babylonian
Ishtar who herself succeeded the Sumerian Inanna.
She is often personified as a naked
woman with exaggerated sexual organs.
Sacred prostitution formed part of her worship.

 Astarte and the cult of mother goddess

Next to aniconistic representations (standing stones, sacred poles, asherah, 1 Kings 16:33, note), anthropomorphic representations of these divinities, such as ‘the carved image’ (2 Kings 21:7) constituted a real ‘snare’ for the Israelites (Judges 2:3). Confronted with this view of the pantheon on a daily basis, it is easier to understand the prohibition of the Decalogue: “You must not make for yourself a carved image. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them.”  - Exodus 20:4-5

Ashtoreth, ashtaroth

The term ashtoreth used in the singular features in the Bible for the first time when Solomon begins worshipping this ‘goddess of the Sidonians’.
 - 1 Kings 11:5, 33.

“You must not make for yourself a carved image. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them.”

 Exodus 20:4-5 
It reappears when Joshua destroys the centres of worship built for ‘the disgusting thing of the Si·do´ni·ans’ (2 Kings 23:13). The plural form ashtaroth probably refers to the images or representations of this pagan goddess (Judges 2:13). Her worship was perhaps practised in Canaan from the time of Abraham onwards, as one of the cities of the country bore the name Ashteroth Karnaim. - Genesis 14:5.
  Vase of the Goddess Ishtar          AO 17000
This large ritual vase is decorated
with the image of Ishtar.
Ishtar, or Inanna for the Sumerians,
is both a goddess of war and the divine incarnation of love, mistress of sexuality
and fertility.
She must no doubt be seen as
the forerunner of mother-goddesses.
She would be Isis A167 in Egypt, Aphrodite in Greece, Venus in Rome, Astarte in Phoenicia and Ashtoreth in the Bible.
This Babylonian prototype is the source
of later mother-goddess worship. Fundamental and omnipresent throughout
the history of man, it is one of the major
themes central to the origin of religions
and civilisations. A169

Ishtar : Babylonian prototype of mother goddess worship ?

The documents discovered in 1929 at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) confirmed the extraordinarily vile and perverse nature of Canaanite worship. The goddesses Astarte, Anat and Asherah symbolised hedonism, sadistic violence and war all at once. The rituals and feasts of the goddesses of fertility emanated undeniable sensuality.

 The perverse nature of Canaanite worship

The Canaanites worshipped their gods
by practising immoral acts in front of them, which held the value of religious rituals, and by assassinating their first-born children. It seems that
the land had become a sort of Sodom
and Gomorrah on a national scale.
Did a civilisation of such abominable corruption and brutality deserve to exist any longer? Are we still surprised that God ordered their extermination? - Deuteronomy 7:1-2.
The archaeologists who excavated the ruins
of Canaanite cities were surprised that
God had not destroyed them
earlier than he had. A247

A civilisation of abominable

 corruption and brutality. 

Sacred prostitution and child sacrifice

Like her Sumero-Babylonian prototype, there were two sides to Astarte
she was both goddess of war
and goddess of love.

 “At its worst, the erotic aspect

of their cult must have sunk
to extremely sordid depths
of social degradation” 
On the one side, a naked woman ready for the embraces which will create life, on the other a dressed and armed creature, who drove those who worshipped her to war.

Ishtar of Tell Ahmar     AO 11503 

Richelieu  Oriental Antiquities
Ground floor room 6

On this relief, the goddess of war
is standing on a lion, her animal attribute,
that she has on a lead.
She is wearing a cylindrical tiara,
topped by a starred disc.
An inscription specifies her identify:
“Ishtar of the city of Arbeles”, who was particularly venerated by the Assyrians.
Astarte was also the goddess of war for
the Philistines living in Canaan, since the armour of Saul, after his defeat, was placed
in the house of images of Ashtoreth.
1 Samuel 31:10.
Egyptian and Foreign Gods     C 86
Sully 1st floor room 28 showcase 1

Qadesh Min Rephesh

This stele features the Syrian Qadesh
next to the Egyptian Min and the
Canaanite Rephesh,
an audacious but accurate combination
of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna/Ishtar
with this double aspect of war (the lion) and love (the naked woman). A248 
See also
Statuette of a Standing Naked Woman   AO 20127 
This delicate figurine, the “Great Goddess”, with articulated arms and adorned with her jewels, reveals her feminine curves. She combines the body of lascivious Venus and the cross of the chaste Diana. It was through small moulded terracotta plaques from Syria representing the goddess Astarte that the image of a naked then dressed goddess was disseminated.
Pendant     AO 14714    Sully Levant room B showcase 8
Material discovered at Ras Shamra yielded the figure of a naked goddess, in clay and in gold. Here the naked goddess, framed by serpents, is mounted on a lion and is overpowering two goats.
The figurines are often those of a woman whose sexual organs are grossly exaggerated. With regard to the phallic worship of the Canaanites, W. Albright says that “At its worst, the erotic aspect of their cult must have sunk to extremely sordid depths of social degradation”. A249


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