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Astarte of Egypt - Strange Deities
1970    Dibyendu Banerjee    04/06/2020

According to legends, Astarte was a Lebanese Goddess for the lovelorn, fell from the heavens as a star and landed in Byblos, to become the city’s patroness, renowned for her prophetic insight and protectiveness, especially when one faces a difficult battle.


In the Bible, she was one of the Canaanite deities whom the Israelites regard with disgust and hatred. Astarte, known as Ashtoreth in Hebrew, was the principal goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the productive power of nature. Ashtoreth was widely worshipped in Israel and sometimes she is considered as the female counterpart or consort of the Israelite Yahweh, as well as of Ba'al, with whom Yahweh could easily be confused. She was often associated with sacred prostitution and as accounted in the Jewish patriarch, Judah had a sexual intercourse with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who has disguised herself as a sacred prostitute, most probably of Astarte, at the town of Timnath, from which the lineage of Judah originated.

astarte of egypt

At beginning in the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, Astarte first appeared in Ancient Egypt, along with the other deities, all of whom were worshipped by northwest Semitic people Her Mesopotamian counterpart was Ishtar and later, she was equated with the Egyptian deities Isis and Hathor, a goddess of the sky and of women. Since the cult of Ishtar spread throughout the Middle East and beyond, reaching as far as Europe, it is possible that Astarte served as the inspiration for the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who bears many resemblances to Astarte.


The cult of Astarte was significant in Egypt and special obelisks were made for the purpose of worshipping her. Apart from the Ancient Egypt, other major centres of Astarte's worship were Sidon, Tyre and Byblos. In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun and coins of Beirut show Poseidon, Astarte and Eshmun worshipped together. She was also worshipped in Carthage, alongside the goddess Tanit. Other faith centres of Astarte were Cytherea, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily, from where she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina.

astarte of egypt
Astarte, by Christian Brinton

Astarte, the goddess of war was also regarded as the goddess of sexual love. She shared many qualities similar to her sister, Anath and their names, taken together, are the basis for the Aramaic goddess Atargatis. Like her sister Anat, she is sometimes depicted as robed in flames, armed with a sword and arrows. However, in Egypt she was thought of as an especially powerful warrior goddess and was associated with the horse and chariot. As the goddess of war, she was also depicted as the goddess on horseback. She is said to be fond of people who were good with horses, as demonstrated by one story where she was delighted by the fact that the son of the Pharaoh was an excellent horseman. Besides horses, her symbols include the lion, the sphinx, the dove and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus.


In the paintings, Astarte is often depicted as a beautiful, naked woman. Often, she wears a set of bull horns as her head gear, which is a sign of dominance and power. Many depictions also show her with a set of wings. Apart from that, it is common for Astarte to be shown with overly round hips, which is associated with motherhood and fertility.

astarte of egypt
Lyssa of Greece Dhumavati of India
Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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