Archaeologists in Serbia discovered lead amulets containing what they believe to be ancient spells, along with the remains of several humans from approximately 2,000 years ago.
The dig was conducted near a large coal-fired power station in the town of Kostolac that had once been the site of an ancient Roman city called Viminacium.
The incantations were written on slips of gold and silver in a language that appeared to be Aramaic written in the Greek alphabet, according to the site’s archaeologists. The spells were similar to works of “binding magic” discovered in other countries.
“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,’” archaeologist Ilija Dankovic told Reuters.
The mysterious text of the spells also makes reference to several demons in what is now modern-day Syria, according to the archaeologists. The provenance of the objects is still being investigated, particularly given the variety of cultural and geographical influences.
“This is not shocking that something from that region would contain binding spells,” University of Glasgow archaeologist Jessica Dietzler told Travel + Leisure. “So the fact that it’s lead also tells me that there’s probably some kind of Roman influence, because curses were often inscribed onto lead.”