© Erich Lessing

GODDESS OF LOVE. The Biblical writers as well as later Greek and Roman authors often associated cult prostitution with the fertility rites of the Canaanite and Phoenician goddess Ashtoreth, perhaps represented by this 8-inch-tall, silver-plated bronze statuette from Syria. Identified with Aphrodite and Venus, the sexually charged goddess was worshiped throughout the Mediterranean world in temples that often employed sacred prostitutes.