Ancient Aramaic incantation describes a mysterious ‘devourer’ that brings ‘fire’ to victims!

Analysis of the incantation’s writing indicates that it was inscribed sometime between 850 BC and 800 BC, and this makes the inscription the oldest Aramaic incantation ever found.
Ancient Aramaic incantation describes a mysterious 'devourer' that brings 'fire' to victims! 1
Illustration of a mysterious desert worm, opening its red voracious toothy mouth, in desert storm and high wind. © Shutterstock

There are many terrifying stories of witches, ghosts and monsters from ancient folklore that continue to terrify modern communities. It is easy to dismiss these stories as pure fiction with no basis in historical truth, but what if there is more to it?

Ancient Aramaic incantation describes a mysterious 'devourer' that brings 'fire' to victims! 2
Illustration of a mysterious desert worm, opening its red voracious toothy mouth, in desert storm and high wind. © Shutterstock

The ancient world was filled with strange myths and unexplainable phenomena. Supernatural entities were often blamed for tragic events like plagues, natural disasters, and illness. However, these myths may have sprung from some sort of reality!

The discovery made in August 2017 of a 2,800-year-old Aramaic incantation was described as “the first ever document of its kind” by archaeologists. The text was found etched into the side of an ancient stone vessel excavated at Pergamon in modern day Turkey. The inscription is believed to be an archaic story of true origin.

The ancient incantation had illustrations of animals such as scorpions on the front and back (shown here). Analysis of the incantation's writing indicates that it was inscribed sometime between 850 BC and 800 BC, and this makes the inscription the oldest Aramaic incantation ever found. © Photo by Roberto Ceccacci/Courtesy of the Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli
The ancient incantation had illustrations of animals such as scorpions on the front and back (shown here). Analysis of the incantation’s writing indicates that it was inscribed sometime between 850 BC and 800 BC, and this makes the inscription the oldest Aramaic incantation ever found. © Photo by Roberto Ceccacci/Courtesy of the Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli

The stone vessel found in a shrine-like ancient building at Zincirli in Turkey originally held cosmetics but was reused to display the enigmatic incantation.

A story was carved over the surface, describing the capture of something called a “devourer” which was said to bring “fire” to its victims. The obvious consequence was a painful death. The only way a person could recover was to use the devourer’s own blood.

The incantation did not specify how the blood was to be administered — it’s not clear whether the blood was given to the afflicted person in a potion that could be swallowed or whether it was smeared onto their body — or the creature’s identity.

Illustrations suggested that it was either a centipede or a scorpion. The “fire” sounds like a painful sting — this sounds similar to the unexplained Mongolian death worm.

The author was a magician called Rahim, who carved the advice in Aramaic some 2,800 years ago. This made it the oldest Aramaic incantation ever found. Archaeologists believe that the incantation was important enough to preserve after the magician’s lifetime because the inscription was already over a century old by the time the temple was built.

This ancient Aramaic incantation is a gruesome description of an unknown creature that brings fire to its victims. While we may never know the identity of this mysterious creature, it’s interesting to think about what purpose it served for those who created the incantation.

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