Ancient Egyptian Spell Book Decoded

Egyptian spell book

Image Credit:Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre

A 20 page Egyptian book of magic spells had been in possession of Macquarie University, Australia since late 1980’s. The 7th-century spell book is made of a stiff, flat, thin material(known as parchment) made from the prepared skin of an animal, usually a sheep or goat. The researchers at the University, have finally managed to translate the book written in Coptic, an Egyptian language into normal language. Such a technique of decoding something from a cryptic language to normal language is called deciphering or decoding. Deciphering is not an easy job. It requires immense of knowledge about ancient scripts and cultures.

What are the magic spells about?

The book, referred to as the “Handbook of Ritual Power,” has 27 magic spells. Ancient Egyptians believed in spirits. They believed that evil spirits can possess people. There is a spell to ward away evil spirit is simple – say the magic words on linseed oil and anoint the affected. They had magic spells for fatal illnesses like black jaundice and yellow jaundice. A binding spell, healing spell, success in business spell, love spell, they had it all.

Who carried out the spells?

The book refers to a mysterious divine figure named “Baktiotha”. In all probability, it was Baktiotha who carried out the spells. He did not want to be labelled as a ‘magician’ so his identity was kept secret. Researchers Choat, and Gardner from Macquarie University have said, “The Baktiotha is an ambivalent figure. He is a great power and a ruler of forces in the material realm.”

In case you want to know more about Egyptian magic spells in detail, you have to visit the Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University in Sydney where the codex is housed.

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