The oldest known curse inscribed on a cup

Constantina Katsari is a professor of ancient history at the University of Leicestershire.  As you might guess, she's Greek, and that's her specialty.  Over on her blog, she reports today the discovery of the oldest known curse inscribed on a drinking cup.

I've previously written about ancient Greek magic and curse tablets.  The Greeks believed in magic, though a very different kind to the sort we think of these days.  Mostly they wrote curse tablets.

Constantina reports the cup that's been discovered dates to 730-690BC, which puts it an astounding 250 years before the time of Nicolaos and Diotima, and the cup says I am (the cup) of Akesandros and (whoever steals me) will lose his eyes (or money).


5 comments:

Orange said...

There is an example of a Latin curse tablet described here:

http://www.archaeology.org/0703/abstracts/thief.html

Someone who doesn't want his cloak pinched. I can't blame him. It was so annoying, at school, if someone took one's blazer.

Amalia T. Dillin said...

I read that curse and thought to myself "must have been a pretty fancy cup for such an extreme curse! I mean, lose their EYES?! BOTH OF THEM?" and then I went and looked at the fragments.

Dude must have really loved his ceramics!

Gary Corby said...

Yes, I rather thought that too. It's sort of like the ancient equivalent of having a surveillance camera on your prized possession.

jonhanna said...

The British Museum of course has lots of really old spells and curses. It's amusing that one of the oldest is falsely claiming to be even older (some things in magic never change).

Gary Corby said...

The BM does indeed. It's surprising how common they were.