Astarte, or Ashtoret in Hebrew, was the principal goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the productive power of nature. She was a lunar goddess and was adopted by the Egyptians as a daughter of Ra or Ptah. 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.
In Christian demonology, Ashtoreth is connected to Friday, and visually represented as a young woman with a cow's horns on her head (sometimes with a cow's tail too).
The cult of Astarte was one of the main competitors to the early Hebrew monotheism.
There is a seriously basised opinion that the Greek goddess Aphrodite (especiall Aphrodite Urania) is just another name for Astarte. Herodot wrote about cult of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about world's largest temple of Aphrodite in one of the Phoenician cities.
Connection to planet Venus is another similarity (looks like going from Mesopotamian Ishtar). Doves sacrificed is another.
Astarte in Egypt
Astarte first appears in Egypt beginning with the 18th dynasty along with other northwest Semitic deities. She was especially worshipped in her aspect of a war goddess, often paired with the goddess ‘Anat. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given in marriage to the god Set, here identified with the Semitic god Hadad. Astarte was also identified with the goddess Sekhmet but seemingly more often conflated, at least in part, with Isis to judge from the many images found of Astarte suckling a small child. Indeed there is statue of the 6th century BCE in the Cairo museum which would normally be taken as protraying Isis with her child Horus on her knee and which in every detail of iconography follows normal Egyptian conventions but the dedicatory inscription reads: "Gersaphon, son of Azor, son of Slrt, man of Lydda, for his Lady, for Astarte."
Plutarch in his On Isis and Osiris indicates that the king and queen of Byblos who unknowingly have the Osiris' body in a pillar in their hall are Melcarthus (that is Melqart and Astarte (though he notes some instead call the queen Saosis or Nemanûs which Plutarch interprets as corresponding to the Greek name Athenais).
- Wikipedia. (2004). ‘Ashtart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%60Ashtart). Retrieved Sept. 22, 2004.