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Health and wellbeing in the ancient world
Health and wellbeing in the ancient world

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2.2 Lead curse tablets

In Ancient Greece and Rome, magic was used to protect people from bad health as well as to inflict illness on your enemies, as in the case of one lead curse tablet [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] which wants the targeted person to wrestle with fevers, possibly malaria.

In the following video, Dr Patty Baker speaks to Adam Parker, a museum curator and PhD student at The Open University, about how these curse tablets were used in the ancient world. Like medicine, cursing used material objects to create its effects, but here the purpose was to cause harm rather than to heal. In creating a curse tablet, not only the material but also the words are important, as is the action of piercing the tablet.

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Video 5 Lead curse tablets
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Next you’ll return to looking at pulse and what it can help detect.