New Historian

Ancient Incantations Found at Serbian Gravesite


<![CDATA[Ancient incantations, written in an obscure language and inscribed on tiny golden and silver scrolls have been uncovered at a nearly 2,000-year-old grave site in Serbia, archaeologists say. According to a news story in Reuters, chief archaeologist Miomir Korac says that the spells written on these diminutive scrolls are a mystery. While the incantations are written using the Greek alphabet, the language itself seems to be Aramaic, remarked Korac. A Semitic language thought to have been spoken by Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples, Aramaic is closely related to both Hebrew and Phoenician. Skeletal remains were discovered in the shadow of a gigantic coal-fired power plant during an excavation. Plans to expand the power station into an adjacent region that had been the site of the ancient Roman city of Viminacium: the one-time regional capital of the province of Moesia, had prompted researchers to conduct archaeological surveys before beginning construction. Korac and his team discovered the scrolls last week while carefully clearing soil from the skeletons. They came across a pair of amulets constructed from lead; once they had been opened, each was found to be housing rolls of gold and silver that had been inscribed painstakingly with writing and symbols. The researchers believe that these are ancient magic incantations, placed intentionally into the graves to invoke the gods to perform acts on behalf of their human worshipers. Ilija Dankovic, an archaeologist working at the site, said that researchers had identified the names of a handful of demons that had a connection to regions that would one day become modern Syria. The inscribed spell scrolls are the first to ever be found in Serbia, but bear a striking resemblance to those discovered by archaeologists in other countries, Dankovic added. According to the archaeologist, these other incantations found elsewhere are often love spells, beseeching the gods to have a specific person fall in love with someone else. However, others were much more malign, including curses that called for the death of the target as well. Dankovic said that such magic spells were commonly interred with individuals, adults or children who had met a violent death, thanks to the belief that the souls of these individuals would take longer to reach a state of rest. These would therefore have a higher chance of encountering gods and demons, and would be able to pass along the content of the spell charms so that the magic could be empowered. The mystery of the spells inscribed on the scrolls – which are both fragile and tiny, each about the size of a sweet wrapper – may never give up their secrets. Work continues on site, with another recent discovery being several remains dating to the fourth century CE. The ancient ruins of Viminacium have been the site of many other noteworthy finds, both from the Roman era and beyond. In 2009, a one-million-year-old mammoth skeleton was discovered; another series of finds, discovered in 2012, included a gladiatorial arena dating to the second century CE, replete with animal remains and a graveyard holding a large number of jewelry pieces. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: Lazarevici ]]>

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