Archaeologists have uncovered the Ancient Greek version of an evil wishing well.
Thirty lead curse tablets thrown into a 2,500-year-old well in the ancient Greek cemetery of Kerameikos have been dredged up, each one engraved with messages calling on underworld gods to curse mortals.
Now, scrawling curses on tablets to cripple political rivals and even prevent witnesses from testifying was par for the course in Ancient Greek and Roman societies that often blurred the lines between magic and religion. But laymen also called upon the underworld gods with these curse tablets, who frequently used binding spells to hinder their enemies.
Burying such curses with the dead was commonplace, and dead children and war victims made particularly apt 'delivery' boys, given their tortured souls' penchants to lounge around their burial sites.
However, a new law forbidding curse tablets in tombs enacted by Athens statesman Demetrius of Phalerum during the fourth century BCE may have forced spellbinders to get more creative and seek a more liquid transmission.
Curses Never Go Out of Style
As archaeologists unearth ancient curse tablets, some Twitter users facetiously worried that they might have just made a huge, world-ending mistake.
Others pointed out that the cursed tablets in the water well very likely worked - but only because they poisoned the water supply with dangerous quantities of lead.
Humor aside, the real anthropological lesson we can all walk away with is this:
Human pettiness truly knows no historical bounds.
So many of us who claim to be religious submit to this idea of an all-knowing deity wielding a grand design. And yet we never tire of asking them to do our dirty work in our own vain pursuits for money and power. One can easily draw parallels to today, where we might let our worst impulses take over and pray for others - politicians, rivals, enemies - to fail.
What do you think?