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Overview Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified evening star.<ref name="vdtoorn" />

Astarte was worshipped in Syria and Canaan beginning in the first millennium BC and was first mentioned in texts from Ugarit. She came from the same Semitic origins as the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, and an Ugaritic text specifically equates her with Ishtar. Her worship spread to Cyprus, where she may have been merged with an ancient Cypriot goddess. This merged Cypriot goddess may have been adopted into the Greek pantheon in Mycenaean and Dark Age times to form Aphrodite. Stephanie Budin, however, argues that Astarte's character was less erotic and more warlike than Ishtar originally was, perhaps because she was influenced by the Canaanite goddess Anat, and that therefore Ishtar, not Astarte, was the direct forerunner of the Cypriot goddess. Greeks in classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times occasionally equated Aphrodite with Astarte and many other Near Eastern goddesses, in keeping with their frequent practice of syncretizing other deities with their own.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>

Other major centers of Astarte's worship were the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray a chariot in which a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Astarte. "She was often depicted on Sidonian coins as standing on the prow of a galley, leaning forward with right hand outstretched, being thus the original of all figureheads for sailing ships." <ref>(Snaith, The Interpreter's Bible, 1954, Vol. 3, p. 103)</ref> In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun. Coins from Beirut show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together.

Other faith centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina. A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre, that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.

Donald Harden in The Phoenicians discusses a statuette of Astarte from Tutugi (Galera) near Granada in Spain dating to the 7th or 6th century BC in which Astarte sits on a throne flanked by sphinxes holding a bowl beneath her pierced breasts. A hollow in the statue would have been filled with milk through the head and gentle heating would have melted wax plugging the holes in her breasts, producing an apparent miracle when the milk emerged.

The Aramean goddess Atargatis (Semitic form  ĽAtar Ľatah) may originally have been equated with Astarte, but the first element of the name Atargatis appears to be related to the Ugaritic form of Asherah's name: Athirat.


Astarte sections
Intro  Name  Overview  Astarte in Ugarit  Astarte in Egypt  Astarte in Phoenicia  Astarte in Judah   Other associations   See also  References  External links  

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