Exploring the mansion
The newfound artifacts hint at the wealth the occupants of the mansion would have enjoyed and include a miniature head of a fighter used as a scale-weight and several gems, including one engraved with an image of Cupid holding a torch.
The tablet was excavated in the northwest part of the mansion. While the second-floor room where the tablet was originally placed has collapsed, the artifacts excavated near the tablet provide hints about what the room may have looked like when in use. (In Photos: Two Black Magic Curse Tablets)
Archaeologists Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, both with the Israel Antiquities Authority, told LiveScience in an email they discovered the remains of mosaics and frescos that contain geometric and floral motifs near the tablet. They also found carved bone fragments from a box that depict the "Triumph of Dionysus," a Greek god, along with maritime imagery such as seahorses.
The team also uncovered roof tiles in the mansion that contain the stamp of the Roman 10th legion, a unit that, for a time, was stationed in Jerusalem. "This practice is common for all the provinces of the Roman Empire. In peaceful times soldiers were responsible for 'civil engineering': They built roads and aqueducts, produced tiles and bricks, etc. The 10th legion produced so many tiles, that it was enough for many more years of construction activity in the city, long after the legion itself left Jerusalem," Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets said.
The researchers also found female figurines, probably depicting a goddess. They were likely used in a "private cult" whose members included residents of the mansion. These figurines were found at or below floor level and may not have been part of the second-floor room that the curse was placed in.
The researchers do not know the purpose of this second-floor room. However, Iennys appears to have been connected to it to such a degree that the curse tablet was placed there intentionally. "Since the curse is directed against Iennys it might have been hidden in or close to a place that he frequented," Daniel wrote in the email. Perhaps lennys lived or worked in the mansion or a courtroom was located near the second floor room, Daniel said.
The discovery was detailed recently in the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.
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