In Germany, archaeologists have found a rolled-up piece of lead that they believe might be a medieval “curse tablet” calling upon “Beelzebub,” also known as Satan.
At first sight, the researchers believed the “unremarkable piece of metal” was simply discarded material. This was because the item was discovered at the base of a latrine at a construction site in Rostock, a city in northern Germany, as stated in a translated document.
Artifact containing a curse summoning Satan and evil spirits
Nevertheless, when experts unfolded the piece of lead, archaeologists discovered the fifteenth-century artifact bore a mysterious message inscribed in Gothic minuscule, which was barely discernible without close inspection. The message read, “sathanas taleke belzebuk hinrik berith.”
The researchers interpreted the text as a curse aimed at a woman named Taleke and a man named Hinrik (Heinrich). The curse invoked Beelzebub (another name for Satan) and Berith (a demonic spirit). Without a close examination, the mysterious message would not have been identified.
Even though the researchers may never uncover the identities of Taleke and Heinrich, they have suggested possible reasons for the animosity. In their statement, the researchers pondered whether someone wanted to disrupt Taleke and Heinrich’s connection, or if this was driven by rejected love and jealousy because someone was trying to interfere.
Similar curse tablets discovered from Greek and Roman sites
The archaeologists emphasized the uniqueness of their discovery. Jörg Ansorge, an archaeologist from the University of Greifswald in Germany leading the excavation, highlighted this point.
He stated that this finding is exceptional, especially considering that similar ‘curse tablets‘ are well documented from ancient times in the Greek and Roman regions spanning from 800 B.C. to A.D. 600.
Ansorge provided examples to illustrate the historical context. He mentioned a 1,500-year-old lead tablet discovered in what is now Israel, inscribed in Greek, invoking demons to harm a rival dancer.
Additionally, he referred to 2,400-year-old tablets found in Greece that sought the intervention of underworld gods to target several tavern keepers. Ansorge remarked, “Our discovery, on the other hand, can be dated to the 15th century…This is truly a very special find.”
The researchers explained that the curse tablets were strategically placed in obscure locations, such as the bottom of latrines, intentionally making them hard or even impossible to find. This ensured that those who were cursed couldn’t easily uncover the tablets.
Love Magic in Ancient Greece and Rome
The practice of magic with spells, charms, and erotic dolls was widespread in ancient Greece and Rome. Although it was discouraged and sometimes even punished in antiquity, it thrived all the same. Authorities publicly condemned it but tended to ignore its powerful hold.