Rafia Zakaria in The Baffler:
THE CARTHAGINIANS WERE some of the richest and most powerful people in the ancient world. A Phoenician colony, Carthage was located in present-day Tunisia. The city was operative from around 800 BCE until 146 BCE, when it was sacked and destroyed by the Romans.
There is something else that was notable about the Carthaginians. This particular ancient culture sacrificed its own children to their gods. The wealth and good fortune of their city-state, Carthaginians believed, could only be assured by pleasing the gods, and their gods were hungry for children. These children, many seemingly only a few weeks old, were taken to ritual locations known as “tophets.” The accumulation of archaeological evidence from Carthage studied in recent decades reveals that the sacrifices appeared to have been carried out year after year. Archaeologists excavating the “tophet” sites have found the cremated remains in over a thousand urns, all containing the remains of sacrificed children.