Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be 2,000-year-old "spells" etched onto tiny rolls of gold and silver, uncovered alongside skeletons in northeastern Serbia. But as archaeologists attempt to decipher the language on the magic scrolls, they admit to not knowing if the spells were intended for good or for evil.
"We read the names of a few demons that are connected to the territory of modern-day Syria," archaeologist Ilija Danković told Reuters.
The scrolls were discovered inside two lead amulets, and appear to have been similar in use to "binding magic" practiced in other cultures. Such charms were typically buried with people who had died violently because the "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," Danković said.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Binding magic could be used to make someone fall in love, but it could also be used for "dark, malignant curses, to the tune of 'May your body turn dead, as cold and heavy as this lead,'" Danković said.
For the time being, the purpose of the spells remains a mystery and it may never be fully understood; while the alphabet is written in Greek letters, the language is Aramaic. "It's a Middle Eastern mystery to us,” Miomir Korać, the chief archaeologist at the site, told Reuters.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.