The Egypt Exploration Society has recently announced a new volume of translated ancient Egyptian papyri that have revealed a mysterious artifact of Egyptian culture: a collection of spells including a love spell designed to give women ultimate power over men’s hearts. The translation work was done by Franco Maltomini on behalf of Oxford University’s Imaging Papyri Project, which is in the process of translating and deciphering a large collection of ancient Egyptian papyri.
One of the spells in the papyri includes instructions for the burning of sacrificial offerings in a bathhouse in order to control the heart of a desired woman:
Burnt offering in the bathhouse. … and write with the blood of Typhon and glue it to the dry vaulted vapour room of the bath: ‘I adjure you, earth and waters, by the demon who dwells on you and the fortune of this bath so that, as you blaze and burn and flame, so blaze her until she comes to me.’
Another spell in this recently translated set instructs lovelorn females on how to engrave a magical copper plaque that can be attached to a man’s shoe, where it will allow them to control his every whim. The text also lays out a charm which includes an animal sacrifice designed to hold the tongue of an enemy:
Take a chameleon alive and hang it, … smoke a root of the plant chameleon … Push through its mouth a stone … gold-coloured, very bright. And after consecrating it with the consecration that works for everything, you will have an unsurpassable wrath restrainer charm, for, worn around the body, it is adapted for all things; but if someone or the opponents in a lawsuit speak … press the stone and they will certainly not speak.
The papyri on which these spells were found were discovered in the late 19th century in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt and have been dated to be around 1,700 years old. This particular papyrus is part of a set of hundreds of thousands of Egyptian scrolls that were discovered at the same site, called the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Translating the texts has been a long, arduous process due to the fragility of the ancient paper scrolls.
Other recent translations of the same set of papyri have turned up an ancient hangover cure and an eye medicine recipe that contains ingredients we now know to be toxic. Despite these new findings, this author’s favorite instance of Egyptian dark magic remains the 1986 love spell that stole his heart and has yet to give it back: