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Archaeologists Just Dug Up 2,000-Year-Old Magic Spells

The spells contained “binding magic”

Image via Wikicommons

Archaeologists have just given new meaning to receiving messages from the dead, as a site excavation in Serbia unveiled tiny scrolls of gold and silver, marked by obscure inscriptions.


While excavating the 2,000-year-old graves of a mother and children in the ancient Roman city Viminacium, archaeologists found small lead amulets stuffed with the thin sheets of precious metals, which archaeologists believe to be indicative of not only high social status but also magic.

Little can be deciphered from the careful etchings; however, the names of certain demons associated with modern-day Syria have been identified. Chief archaeologist Miomir Korać said of the writing, “The alphabet is Greek, that much we know. The language is Aramaic – it’s a Middle Eastern mystery to us.”

Similar amulets have been recovered at burial sites in other countries and have been known to harbor “binding magic,” suggesting the individuals had suffered violent deaths. Archaeologist Ilijia Danković further explained this belief, saying:

"They were often love charms, ordering someone to fall in love, but there were also dark, malignant curses, to the tune of ‘May your body turn dead, as cold and heavy as this lead.’ …[It was believed that] souls of such people took longer to find rest and had a better chance of finding demons and deities and pass the wishes to them so they could do their magic.”

Though researchers can draw on similar data to postulate the meaning of these scrolls, their language has been long lost and is unlikely to be fully and accurately transcribed. For now, however, we can use our own imaginations to uncover the tale of this family laid to rest and how magic may still have its place among the living.

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