Thursday, August 23, 2012

Roman Curses Appear on Ancient Tablet

An ancient Roman lead scroll unearthed in England three years ago has turned out to be a curse intended to cause misfortune to more than a dozen people, according to new research.

Found in East Farleigh, U.K., in the filling of a 3rd to 4th Century AD building that may have originally been a temple, the scroll was made of a 2.3- by 3.9-inch inscribed lead tablet.

Popular in the Greek and Roman world, these sorts of "black magic" curses called upon gods to torment specific victims.

Rolled up to conceal their inscriptions, the tablets were either nailed to the wall of a temple or buried in places considered to be close to the underworld, such as graves, springs or wells.

ANALYSIS: King Tut's' Many Curses

The scroll, unearthed in the Kent village had been carefully rolled up and buried, most likely in the third century AD, similar to other curse tablets found throughout Europe.

The researchers tried to read the fragile scroll without unrolling it by using a technique called neutron computed tomography imaging at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, but "the resolution was not sufficient to discern any writing on it," said the Maidstone Area Archaeological Group, which made the finding.

As the curse tablet, or defixio, was unrolled, the inscribed letters became visible under a scanning electron microscope.

Via http://news.discovery.com/history/curse-ancient-roman-lead-scroll-120821.html