Stele with “Servant of Melqart” Engraving in Phoenician Discovered in Mozia
A team of archaeologists, coordinated by Lorenzo Nigro from the Sapienza Department of Italian Institute of Oriental Studies, has discovered the remains of a stele dedicated to the “tomb of the Servant of Melqart, son of …” The engraving, in Phoenician, refers to the title usually used to refer to the King of the Island.
The important discovery was made during the last day of the dig by the Sapienza Archaeological Mission. The stele was concealed in a windowless room in a defensive tower of the city’s first wall (ca. 6 BC) together with vase fragments, the skeletal remains of an adult and child and a funerary stone in calcarenite.
The upper part of the stele, about 45 cm. high, presents traces of bright red paint on the top. On one side, the stele has a monumental engraving in Phoenician, which on four lines reads “tomb of the Servant of Melqart, son of …”
Melqart was the divine protector of the King of Mozia who, by using such an epithet, emphasized the divine right to his status. The state of conservation of the engraving, although incomplete, makes it one of the best monumental engravings every found on the island and provides an important indication both on the site of the necropolis and the chronology of what has been unearthed to date.
The Sapienza Archaeological Mission to Mozia, coordinated by Lorenzo Nigro, is part of the university’s large digs and is conducted through an agreement with Cultural Heritage Department of the Sicily Region – Trapani BBCCAA Office and in collaboration with the Fondazione G. Whitaker.
Department of Italian Institute of Oriental Studies