Circa: 100 BC to 200 AD
Collection: Incantation Lead Scroll
Style: Magical Text
Condition: Very Fine
‘Remain like stones, unmoving, un-running’: another Greek spell against competitors in a foot-race* The magical tablet published here is a rectangle with rounded corners, 78 by 118 mm, cut from sheet lead c. 0.5 mm thick, one face of which has been inscribed with a very fine point. Slight corrugation and differential corrosion on the back suggest that it was originally rolled or folded, but the surface has not been stressed or cracked. It is complete except for the upper right-hand corner, about one-third of the right- hand edge with associated holes, a nick in the bottom, and two nicks in the left-hand edge. The resulting loss of text is quite small, and most of it can be restored. The upper two-thirds of the inscribed surface has been obscured by slight oxidation and corrosion products, but not so as to make the writing illegible. Overall this is well-preserved, and there are few difficulties. It consists of 33 lines of minute but well-formed Greek letters c. 2 mm high, which can be dated to the 4th century AD. This inscribed text is an elaborate binding spell repeated with variations four times, with intervening sequences of magical words (voces magicae). It is directed against three named athletes, Antiokhos, Hierax and Kastor, evidently runners, whose feet, sinews and other attributes are ‘bound’ so as to ensure their failure ‘in the stadium’. The tablet is said to have been found in Egypt, a provenance supported by its affinity with a lead tablet from Oxyrhynchus, ‘the only known applied spell of Egyptian provenance directed against athletes’. It is confirmed by the Egyptian names of the mothers of all three athletes.