ASYLUM. A sanctuary or sacred spot. " within whose precincts those who take refuge may not be harmed without sacrilege " (" Encyclopaedia Biblica "). Among the Hebrews the asylum was at first the altar (I. Kings 1. 50-53; 1. Kings ii. 28-34). The Greeks fled to sanc tuaries. We read In the Apocrypha of the Jewish high priest Onias taking refuge in the famous sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis at Daphne near Antioch (ii. Mac cabees Iv. 33 ff). The Romans adopted the practice, and took refuge in sacred places (temples). Among the Central Australian Arunta a man, and even an animal, is safe in the immediate neighbourhood of an ertnatulunga, the sacred spot in a local totem centre. In Upolu (Samoan Islands) the asylum was found to be a sacred tree. At Maiva (South Eastern part of New- Guinea), the temple (dubu) serves as an asylum. Among the Gallas it is a hut near the burial-place of the king; in Fetu on the Gold Coast it is the hut of the high-priest. In the Caucasus criminals, and even animals. take refuge in sacred groves. Among the Hebrews. when the old holy places were abolished, " six cities of refuge " (`nre miklat) were appointed as asylums (Deuteronomy iv. 41-43; xix. 2 f.. S-10). Amongst
other peoples cities or villages have served the same purpose. In the island of Hawaii there were cities of refuge for non-combatants during a war. Among North American tribes the place of refuge is sometimes a whole village, sometimes a place of worship. Among the South-Central African Barotse it is a city of refuge or the tomb of a chief. Dr. Westermarck thinks that the right of sanctuary is explained, partly by the fear of shedding blood and disturbing the peace in a holy place, partly by the idea that a criminal, unless he Is made friendly, might bring a curse on the deity. Chris tian churches became places of refuge, and long remained so; but something had to be done to check abuses. Consequently, " by the legislation of Justinian those guilty of certain specified crimes were to find no right of asylum in the churches " (Addis and Arnold). See E. Westermarck, vol. ii., 1908; Encycl. Bibl.