Sign of Tanit
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The symbol has many variants, but the basic form consists of a disc on top of a triangle, separated by a horizontal line, like a schematic image of a person. The first representations of the sign were reported on stele unearthed on the site of Carthage from the beginning of the 19th century. Archaeological excavations have subsequently uncovered representations on other supports such as mosaics or even on ceramics.
The excavations of tophet of Carthage, Sousse and Motya have highlighted the particularly important diffusion of the symbol in the western basin of the Mediterranean Sea, although the few discoveries on primitive Phoenician land may only be due to continued occupation of sites making searches more difficult.
Modern scholars associate the symbol with the goddess Tanit, partner of Ba'al Hammon and the most important goddess in the Punic religion. This identification is widely, but not universely, accepted. Some scholars have argued that the symbol derived from the Egyptian ankh, on the basis of the visual similarity between the two symbols and the close connections between Punic Carthage and the Egypt. The motif may have had an apotropaic purpose, intended to offer protection from the evil eye.