Archaeologists excavating a site associated with the ancient Roman city of Viminacium in modern day Serbia have stumbled upon something very unusual: tiny sheets of gold and silver, rolled up like scrolls and placed inside diminutive lead amulets, with mysterious writing etched on them. Scholars now believe the etchings are ancient magic spells, reports The Guardian.
The amulets were discovered inside the graves of skeletons that were buried 2,000 years ago. The scrolls, made of incredibly thin precious metals, likely would have taken expert craftsmanship to be so elegantly etched upon.
“The alphabet is Greek, that much we know. The language is Aramaic – it’s a Middle Eastern mystery to us,” said Miomir Korać, chief archaeologist at the site.
So far the only thing that can be deciphered from the writing is the names of a few demons that are connected to the territory of modern-day Syria, adding to the interest of the find. Archaeologists guess that the inscriptions must be magic spells… but for what purpose?
Since the amulets are similar to those found at sites in other countries, which have been known to contain “binding magic” and which were also buried in graves, researchers assume these gold and silver scrolls have a similar purpose.
“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,’” explained archaeologist Ilija Danković.
If a similar spell was inscribed on these scrolls, it certainly adds some ominous intrigue to the cause of death of these ancient humans!
Actually, magic charms were especially common in the graves of individuals who had suffered a violent death, because of a belief 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,” added Danković.
The fact that these skeletons received their charms on precious sheets of gold and silver might indicate that they had an elevated social status.
As for the prospects of ever fully deciphering the scrolls, researchers are doubtful; the language they were written in has been lost. If you’re the superstitious type, however, maybe you think that’s for the best.