Thanks to advances in ROVs, or remotely operated underwater vehicles, many of the mysteries of the deep are now beginning to reveal themselves to scientists and amateur mystery hunters alike. Late last year, an underwater castle was discovered under the waters of Lake Van, Turkey, providing archaeologists with a completely unknown structure to study. Just a few hundred miles to the east, scientists have discovered hundreds of mysterious stone inscriptions lying at the bottom of the Caspian Sea off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan. Even stranger? Local researchers believe the inscriptions are ancient spells deliberately sunken beneath the sea to ward off evil spirits, adversaries, and natural disasters.
The discovery was announced by the Public Relations Office of the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT), a branch of the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Higher Education which promotes anthropological and archaeological research in the region. The inscriptions were found alongside a castle and island which fell into the sea around the year 1306 due to an earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency in Iran, the inscriptions are written in Persian and Arabic, and while many words are recognizable, they do not form any “meaningful phrases” in any of the combinations researchers have tried. In other words, they likely represent some unknown ancient use of language - possibly magic incantations. Some of the inscriptions bear images of humans, animals, demons, and elves.
Morteza Rezvanfar, a faculty member of the RICHT, says close to 700 different inscriptions have been discovered. Such “spells” were common in the region throughout history as a means of protecting buildings or settlements from being conquered by forces either wordly or otherwordly. Often, these inscriptions were deliberately submerged into waters surrounding structures to hide and preserve the spells.
Too bad they couldn’t protect against that earthquake, though.