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Lead curse (defixio)

 

Length: 220.000 mm

P&EE 1934 11-5 1

Room 49: Roman Britain

    Lead curse (defixio)

    Roman Britain, 1st-4th century AD
    Found in Telegraph Street, Moorgate, London

    The dark side of life in Roman Britain

    The wishing of ill-health, or worse, on a person is typical of many Roman curses.

    This example from Roman London, scratched on a fragment of lead sheet, reads:

    'I curse Tretia Maria and her life and mind and memory and liver and lungs mixed up together, and her words, thoughts and memory; thus may she be unable to speak what things are concealed, nor be able...'.

    Curses were sometimes rolled up, hidden under floors or in wall cavities, or nailed up. After this example had been inscribed it was pierced by seven holes driven through from the back of the sheet, a procedure perhaps intended to increase the power of the curse.

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    On display: Room 49: Roman Britain

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