Archeologists Find Ancient Curse On Lead Tablet in Jerusalem Ruins


A lead tablet inscribed with a violent curse, believed to be some 1700 years old, was discovered by archeologists in a ruined Roman mansion dating to the third and fourth century AD, in the heart of ancient Jerusalem.

The ancient curse written in Greek tells about the plight of a furious woman named 'Kyrilla' against 'Lennys' or 'Iennys,' apparently the name of the victim.

The translation of the curse reads: Kyrilla calls upon six different gods from various religions to ensure her prayers are heard and Lennys' punished. Four of the them belong to Greece (Hermes, Persephone, Pluto and Hectate), one is Babylonian (Ereschigal) and one an early Christian Gnostic (Abrasax).

"I strike down and nail down the tongue, the eyes, the wrath, the ire, the anger, the procrastination, the opposition of Lennys," the curse reads, the Daily Mail reports.

"(Please make sure) he in no way oppose, so that he say or perform nothing adverse to Kyrilla but rather that Lennys, whom the womb bore, be subject to her."

Archeologists believe that the woman did not have a liking for one particular god. The curse also contained words considered to be powerful in ancient Jewish tradition.

The tablet was found in a room that was likely to be used by Iennys, intended to prevent him from speaking against Kyrilla.

The study has been published in the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphi

Robert Walter Daniel, of the Institut für Altertumskunde at the University of Cologne, said that a professional magician probably created the curse for Kyrilla with hammer and nails in order to make it more powerful. Plus, the script on the tablet is rapid and fluent, indicating that the magician was well versed with inscribing leaden tablets.

"While the words might be purely metaphorical, it seems more likely that Kyrilla actually used a hammer and nail(s) while carrying out a magical rite designed to enhance the efficacy of the curse," the study said.

"If she hammered and nailed several objects, they might have symbolised the seven items in the list of Iennys' body parts and behaviours. If it was just a single object, then it probably symbolised the first item in that list - Iennys' tongue - or more generally the person of Iennys. Whatever this object was, it was probably not the leaden sheet itself," Daniel told the Mail.

The lead tablet represents one of the several recent discoveries by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the 2000sq/m mansion located in a parking lot in an area known as the City of David. These discoveries are providing new insights into the ancient Roman life.

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