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Ancient Mysteries

Ancient curses found in 2,400-year-old grave

April 6, 2016 | Comment icon 10 comments



The ancient Greeks feared the gods of the underworld. Image Credit: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Lead tablets inscribed with powerful curses have been unearthed at a grave site in Athens, Greece.
Found pierced with an iron nail, the five tablets - of which four bear inscriptions - had been folded and buried in the grave in the hope that they would reach the 'chthonic' ( gods of the underworld. )

"The way that curse tablets work is that they're meant to be deposited in an underground location," said Jessica Lamont of John Hopkins University. "It's thought that these subterranean places provided a conduit through which the curses could have reached the underworld."

According to the inscriptions on the tablets, the curses had been intended to target four different husband-and-wife tavern keepers and may have been commissioned by a rival in the area.
"Cast your hate upon Phanagora and Demetrios and their tavern and their property and their possessions," one of the curses reads.

"I will bind my enemy Demetrios, and Phanagora, in blood and in ashes, with all the dead..."

The grave itself is situated northeast of the Piraeus, the port of Athens, and is believed to contain the ashes of a young woman. It isn't actually clear if this person would have had anything to do with the curses because whoever was responsible for writing them may have simply used her grave as an opportunity to deposit the tablets in the ground for their journey to the underworld.

What became of the tavern keepers mentioned in the inscriptions however remains a mystery.

Source: Live Science | Comments (10)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by DeeSember 6 years ago
Seems to be the work of the ancient ancestors of internet trolls. Nice to see they archived old post!
Comment icon #2 Posted by northylee123 6 years ago
So someone got drunk in a pub kicked off and got thrown out by the landlord and landlady and barred so he stumbles around drunk going where is a grave where is a grave.....ahhhh hic here's one hic..... I will show them (pulls out stone tablet and chizzle) lol
Comment icon #3 Posted by Captain Dumbass 6 years ago
So someone got drunk in a pub kicked off and got thrown out by the landlord and landlady and barred so he stumbles around drunk going where is a grave where is a grave.....ahhhh hic here's one hic..... I will show them (pulls out stone tablet and chizzle) lol ... i don't get where i am supposed to laugh out loud.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Alaric 6 years ago
Let me guess... the tavern keepers names were Amanda Huginkiss, Al Coholic, Bea O'Problem, Oliver Klozoff, Ivana Tinkle, Hugh Jass, Anita Bath & Ura Snotball?
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Why would they use an iron spike. I thought iron was a way to ward off magic. Maybe iron doesn't work with curses.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Trust_no_one 6 years ago
What the hell? them people must have annoyed something awful.. or they had something someone wanted more likely the pub or the man or women What the hell? them people must have annoyed something awful.. or they had something someone wanted more likely the pub or the man or women
Comment icon #7 Posted by Dyna 6 years ago
Anyone read the article? The word kynotos literally means "dog's ear," an ancient gambling term that "was the name for the lowest possible throw of dice," Jessica Lamont, an instructor at John Hopkins University in Baltimore who recently completed a doctorate in classics, wrote in an article published recently in the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. The "physical act of hammering a nail into the lead tablet would have ritually echoed this wished-for sentiment," Lamont wrote. "I think it's likely that the person who commissioned them was probably in the world of the tavern hi... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by northylee123 6 years ago
... i don't get where i am supposed to laugh out loud. At the lol bit.......
Comment icon #9 Posted by Infernal Gnu 6 years ago
I guess back then you could rent space in a dead relative's grave for anyone who wanted to place a curse tablet. I would dig real deep to allow for placement of plenty of tablets to defray funeral expenses.
Comment icon #10 Posted by BeastieRunner 6 years ago
The first written curse words! AWESOME!


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