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Ancient Curse Jar from Athenian Agora Analyzed

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Athens Curse JarATHENS, GREECE—Jessica Lamont of Yale University has analyzed a ceramic jar holding the bones of a young chicken discovered in 2006 near several burned pyres that contained animal remains under the floor of the Classical Commercial Building of the Agora in Athens, according to a Live Science report. Lamont said the 2,300-year-old jar had been gouged with a large iron nail and inscribed with the names of more than 55 people and the words “we bind.” The inscriptions were written with a stylus by at least two people with knowledge of how to cast a powerful curse, Lamont explained. She thinks the number of intended victims suggests they may have been witnesses and family members involved in an impending lawsuit concerning the industrial building where the jar was found, but she also noted that several factions were fighting in Athens at the time in the wake of the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. The young chicken’s twisted and pierced head and pierced lower legs may have been intended to incapacitate the people named on the jar, Lamont surmised. To read about lead curse tablets recovered from a well in ancient Athens' Kerameikos cemetery, go to "The Cursing Well."

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