Roman Curse Table (Crusader and all help! )
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  1. #1

    Oct 2007
    342
    344 times

    Roman Curse Table (Crusader and all help! )

    Hey guys,

    I wanted to pick your brains about something I found on my dig near Amsterdam earlier this year. It was a neatly rolled piece of lead. Initially I thought it was used as a weight or perhaps a game token, I believe Crusader actually commented on the photo and mentioned that it might have been a way people just stored lead in those days.

    (I can’t figure out how to post a link from my original post, however if you search for “Amsterdam” it will pop up. Attached is the picture of the item I found (next to a musket ball):

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Fast forward to a few days ago, I was browsing Instagram and looking at metal detecting finds from England when a conversation about “Roman Curse Tablets” was brought up along with some photos that made me think about the item I found. I’ve never heard of them before until that moment so am a complete novice when it comes to the topic. In short, they were curses, made to inflict malice against someone, written on lead sheets which were then rolled up (and sometimes punctured with a bail). Searching the Portable Antiquities Scheme (database for cataloguing archeological finds in England) I found several “possible Roman Curse Tablets” which resembled my own.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I’m open to any input and thoughts on the matter.

    One way to test this out it to gently unroll the lead (and see if there is any text inside), which is where I also seek advice...I’m assuming heating it will make it more malleable and less brittle?

    Thanks in advance for your ideas and for taking the time to read this long post!
    yaxthri, ROIGuy, Gene Mean and 3 others like this.

  2. #2
    us
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  3. #3
    Charter Member
    us
    Jul 2011
    Gold canyon AZ
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    I don’t think heating is a good idea, the brittleness is most likely from the oxide coating, this oxide has a much higher melting point than the lead, so heating it will not have much effect and may cause damage to the item.
    Locke, ANTIQUARIAN and ROIGuy like this.
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  4. #4
    In all likely hood its just a rolled bit of lead we finds hundreds (literately) a year. They can't be cursing that much all over the place, not even on Roman Sites, as lead was used for thousands of years.

    The only way is to open it up, I do it all the time, never found anything in any of them. But I did have a friend find some human hair, which they think was a love spell.
    TOO BUSY TO DETECT,YOU'RE TOO BUSY!!!

    'Time isn't money it's finds, unless your finds are money' 08/12/17
    'No good comes from thinking about how much time we waste detecting, as wasted time is good soul time' 25/06/08
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  5. #5
    ca
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    I remember watching a BBC episode of Time Team and they mentioned, "that messages about people and wishes to the gods were often inscribed on pieces of flat lead. The lead was then rolled up and deposited as votive offerings at temples to the gods."

    Dave
    Last edited by ANTIQUARIAN; Sep 09, 2019 at 07:02 AM. Reason: Punctuation
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    “I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”
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  6. #6
    us
    Aug 2015
    South Florida
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    Don't know about you, but I'd be real careful (and think twice) before opening a curse tablet.
    Just ask the families of the guys who found King Tut!
    Locke, CoinFetcher, ROIGuy and 2 others like this.

  7. #7

    Oct 2007
    342
    344 times
    Quote Originally Posted by ffuries View Post
    Thank you for your help. Couldn’t figure out how to do it with just the phone app.

  8. #8

    Oct 2007
    342
    344 times
    Quote Originally Posted by alan m View Post
    I don’t think heating is a good idea, the brittleness is most likely from the oxide coating, this oxide has a much higher melting point than the lead, so heating it will not have much effect and may cause damage to the item.
    Noted! Thank you.
    alan m likes this.

  9. #9

    Oct 2007
    342
    344 times
    Quote Originally Posted by CRUSADER View Post
    In all likely hood its just a rolled bit of lead we finds hundreds (literately) a year. They can't be cursing that much all over the place, not even on Roman Sites, as lead was used for thousands of years.

    The only way is to open it up, I do it all the time, never found anything in any of them. But I did have a friend find some human hair, which they think was a love spell.
    Totally agree and makes senses. With as commonly used as lead was etc. I’ll try unrolling it and seeing what happens Thanks again for the input.

  10. #10

    Oct 2007
    342
    344 times
    Quote Originally Posted by ANTIQUARIAN View Post

    I remember watching a BBC episode of Time Team and they mentioned, "that messages about people and wishes to the gods were often inscribed on pieces of flat lead. The lead was then rolled up and deposited as votive offerings at temples to the gods."

    Dave
    That’s exactly what I gathered from my research, the examples I found online which were translated were very interesting. Very specific like, “ hey Apollo, some guy stole my cows and I hope he won’t be able to eat or sleep until he returns them to me”.
    ANTIQUARIAN likes this.

  11. #11
    us
    Aug 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Locke View Post
    Totally agree and makes senses. With as commonly used as lead was etc. I’ll try unrolling it and seeing what happens Thanks again for the input.
    There is a possibility there is writing on the inside, or nothing as Crusader noted. I would ask others how they managed to unroll their piece if you want to proceed. I know I would be curious, but I would not want to damage the piece if I could help it.
    Your browser on your phone should provide a way to share a link. So you would go to a page, copy the link and then paste it into a post.
    Nice find there. If you find anything inside please let us know.
    ANTIQUARIAN and Locke like this.
    You may forget but let me tell you this: someone in some future time will think of us-Sappho

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by ANTIQUARIAN View Post

    I remember watching a BBC episode of Time Team and they mentioned, "that messages about people and wishes to the gods were often inscribed on pieces of flat lead. The lead was then rolled up and deposited as votive offerings at temples to the gods."

    Dave
    Exactly, so the only time you really find them is at temple sites or shrines/springs.
    TOO BUSY TO DETECT,YOU'RE TOO BUSY!!!

    'Time isn't money it's finds, unless your finds are money' 08/12/17
    'No good comes from thinking about how much time we waste detecting, as wasted time is good soul time' 25/06/08
    A real man thinks about detecting every 6 seconds.
    'They look over their shoulder, I look to the ground' 30/09/12
    We can not understand ourselves unless we understand our HISTORY.
    PMA:Positive MetalDetecting Attitude.
    ONE LIFE - DETECT IT

  13. #13

    Apr 2016
    South Western PA
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    I’m not an expert on unrolling lead. But I have found hundreds of lead bits including some rolled and folded examples. Yours looks super tight, so I would guess it will be a challenge to unroll without some damage, but as mentioned previously the odds that it has writing is slim. So I would place it in a vice that you have padded with some rubber, then using a knife find the edge in the first layer, pry the edge in to force away that outer layer 1/16”, they use some plastic putty knives to gently unroll the package. Work slowly and good luck!

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by pa-dirt_nc-sand View Post
    I’m not an expert on unrolling lead. But I have found hundreds of lead bits including some rolled and folded examples. Yours looks super tight, so I would guess it will be a challenge to unroll without some damage, but as mentioned previously the odds that it has writing is slim. So I would place it in a vice that you have padded with some rubber, then using a knife find the edge in the first layer, pry the edge in to force away that outer layer 1/16”, they use some plastic putty knives to gently unroll the package. Work slowly and good luck!
    You just have to accept a bit of damage, simple.
    TOO BUSY TO DETECT,YOU'RE TOO BUSY!!!

    'Time isn't money it's finds, unless your finds are money' 08/12/17
    'No good comes from thinking about how much time we waste detecting, as wasted time is good soul time' 25/06/08
    A real man thinks about detecting every 6 seconds.
    'They look over their shoulder, I look to the ground' 30/09/12
    We can not understand ourselves unless we understand our HISTORY.
    PMA:Positive MetalDetecting Attitude.
    ONE LIFE - DETECT IT

  15. #15

    Oct 2007
    342
    344 times
    Quote Originally Posted by pa-dirt_nc-sand View Post
    I’m not an expert on unrolling lead. But I have found hundreds of lead bits including some rolled and folded examples. Yours looks super tight, so I would guess it will be a challenge to unroll without some damage, but as mentioned previously the odds that it has writing is slim. So I would place it in a vice that you have padded with some rubber, then using a knife find the edge in the first layer, pry the edge in to force away that outer layer 1/16”, they use some plastic putty knives to gently unroll the package. Work slowly and good luck!
    Thank you for the advice! As with lots of things in our hobby patience is the key I’ll post the after pictures in the next few days!

 

 
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