Archaeologists find 2,000-year-old relics to ward off demons
Archaeologists have just announced a unique discovery made in Turkey last year – a set of relics that are believed to have been used in ancient rituals to ward off disaster. The artefacts were buried under a floor in Sardis, an ancient city located in what is now modern-day Turkey, nearly 2,000 years ago and include two containers that each held small bronze tools, an eggshell and a coin.
The dwelling had been built after a devastating earthquake that occurred in 17 AD, and researchers have hypothesised that the items were placed under the floor as part of a ritual to protect the house from further disaster.
The objects that were found are known to have been important in ancient rituals to ward off demons and evil spirits. Elizabeth Raubolt of the University of Missouri, who has worked on excavations at Sardis, said that several superstitions in the ancient world involved eggs. For example, people used to break or pierce the shells of eggs with a spoon after eating them to ward off evil spells, and eggshells were also placed inside ‘demon traps’ buried in what is now Iraq and Iran to lure and disarm malevolent forces. Raubolt thinks that the eggshells at Sardis served as a way to protect the people in this building from evil forces, including future earthquakes.
Nearly identical ritual artefacts were found decades ago around the Artemis Temple in Sardis, and other ritual items dating back 2,500 years have also been found under floors in the region. For example, one grisly discovery made in the 1960s involved 30 pots and jars each containing an iron knife and a puppy skeleton with butchering marks.
According to Raubolt, the discovery offers a rare example of how the earthquake affected ancient people on a personal level: "It's one person's way of coping with the uncertainties and tumultuous events of that period."