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Dozens of tablets that called on ‘the gods of the underworld’ to curse the dead are found in Athens

Thirty lead tablets that appeal to ‘the gods of the underworld’ have been discovered at the bottom of a 2,500-year-old well in ancient Athens.

The “ritual texts” were commissioned by the living to curse their rivals who died prematurely, because their souls were said to be “restless” and brought the messages with them to the hereafter.

The hexagons were etched in lead and originally nailed to the deceased coffin, but those who wanted to cause damage had to find other ways to cast spells after banning the “black arts.”

Archaeologists believe that the next best place is to throw them in a well, because people may have thought that the messages would find their own way into the underworld.

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Thirty lead tablets that appeal to 'the gods of the underworld' have been discovered at the bottom of a 2,500-year-old well in ancient Athens

Thirty lead tablets that appeal to ‘the gods of the underworld’ have been discovered at the bottom of a 2,500-year-old well in ancient Athens

Dr. Jutta Stroszeck, director of the Kerameikos excavation on behalf of the German archaeological institute in Athens, told Haaretz: “The person who ordered a curse is never mentioned by name, only the recipient.”

Experts believe that there were four reasons to curse the deceased: winning a lawsuit, succeeding in business, winning athletic competitions, and for general affairs of love and hate.

The well is part of a bathhouse from the first century BC that was first excavated in 2016 and then four tablets were exposed.

In addition to the spells, experts also found other items such as drinking cups (skyphoi), wine mixing vessels (crater), clay lamps, cooking pots, special wide-mouthed clay pots that were used to draw water (gift), wooden artifacts, including a trinket box, a scraper used by potters, a wooden pulley, part of the drawing mechanism of the well) a number of bronze coins, as well as organic remains such as peach pits.

The “ritual texts” were commissioned by the living to curse their rivals who died prematurely, because their souls were said to be “restless” and carried the messages to the hereafter

The well, which was the source of water for the old bathhouse, is about 32 feet deep and built of limestone

The well, which was the source of water for the old bathhouse, is about 32 feet deep and built of limestone

The well, which was the source of water for the old bathhouse, is about 32 feet deep and built of limestone

Researchers believe that the hexagons were placed in a well according to a new law for grave management that occurred in 317-307 BC. Was established.

“Black arts” became taboo in the area and with the new law in force, curses were no longer allowed on graves.

By the last years of the fourth century BC, those who had bad will had to look to others for other ways to make contact with the underworld, Stroszeck explained.

And it seemed that they thought the sources were closer to the hereafter.

The well, which was the source of water for the old bathhouse, is about 32 feet deep and built of limestone.

In addition to the spells, experts also found other items such as drinking cups (skyphoi), wine mixing vessels (crater), clay lamps, cooking pots, special wide-mouthed clay pots that were used to draw water (gift), wooden artifacts, including a trinket box and a figurine ( photo)

In addition to the spells, experts also found other items such as drinking cups (skyphoi), wine mixing vessels (crater), clay lamps, cooking pots, special wide-mouthed clay pots that were used to draw water (gift), wooden artifacts, including a trinket box and a figurine ( photo)

In addition to the spells, experts also found other items such as drinking cups (skyphoi), wine mixing vessels (crater), clay lamps, cooking pots, special wide-mouthed clay pots that were used to draw water (gift), wooden artifacts, including a trinket box and a figurine ( photo)

The tablets were discovered in Athens, Greece and were a common ritual among those who lived in the old city

The tablets were discovered in Athens, Greece and were a common ritual among those who lived in the old city

The tablets were discovered in Athens, Greece and were a common ritual among those who lived in the old city

A professional curse writer was hired to make the tablets, which were then folded and pierced with an iron nail.

Before the ban on ‘black art’ the curse would then be nailed in the coffin with the hope that the soul would take it to the underworld.

Researchers analyze the 30 tablets using reflection transformation imaging, a technique that can read even the smallest inscriptions on lead and has been used in the past to discover text on other ancient Greek tablets.

The archaeologists hope to learn the nature of the curses and if the targets of the hexes were one of the famous Athenians who lived in the city in the late fourth century BC

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