Researchers Decode Ancient Egyptian Spell From Mysterious Codex

Scene from afterlife ceremony painted on papyrus

Two Australian scholars translated an ancient Egyptian handbook containing 20 pages of papyrus encoded with magic spells. The codex contains bizarre drawings and a series of enchantments written in Coptic, an Egyptian language that used the Greek alphabet. The origin of the codex, as well as its discoverer, remain unknown.

Now referred to as the “Handbook of Ritual Power,” the documents were decoded by researchers Malcolm Choat from Macquarie University and Iain Gardner from the University of Sydney. Macquarie University originally purchased the codex in 1981 from an antiques dealer, though attempts to decipher it were unsuccessful for decades.

The two initially translated the documents in 2014, but now a new translation by French academic Korshi Dosoo of a page containing a cryptic drawing, appears to be a magic love spell. Dosoo recently published his translation in the Journal of Coptic Studies. The texts are believed to have been written some 1,300 years ago in Upper Egypt and contain 27 enchantments paired with various illustrations.

coptic love spell

courtesy LiveScience.com

 

The writings contain biblical references to Jesus, Adam and Eve, and a previously unknown Coptic deity, named Baktiotha. The nature of the documents’ translation led the researchers to believe it was a collection of spells made by a scholar, rather than a religious figure, who compiled it in order to help others achieve specific life goals.

The recently translated love spell seems like it was used to solve a love triangle or some other complicated romantic situation.

“Christian literary texts from Egypt which mention love spells often imply that the problem is not that the woman doesn’t love the man per se, but that he does not have access to her, because she is a young unmarried girl protected and secluded by her family, or already married to someone else,” researcher Korshi Dosoo of the University of Strasbourg, told LiveScience.

Other spells were clearly used for social or occupational purposes, such as getting along better with another person or outperforming a business rival. The codex also included spells that were clearly meant for medical applications like curing disease and other ailments.

There still remain a number of other cryptic texts throughout the world eluding scholars’ translation, most notably the Voynich Manuscript – a compendium of herbal and medicinal knowledge, with bizarre illustrations of naked women in bath halls. Since it’s discovery and identification as a rare and enigmatic codex, attempts to translate the manuscript have baffled a multitude of university professors, as well as AI algorithms built specifically to translate it. Though the Voynich text looks similar to Gaelic scripture, AI determined it to be Hebrew, while scholars at Perdue recently determined its origin to be Mexican.

 

For more on mysterious encryptions in ancient Egyptian art check out the documentary series, The Pyramid Code:



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Archeologists Find Another New Human Species in Philippine Cave

Our family tree has become more labyrinthine, reminding us how little we really know about our species’ evolution, as archeologists have discovered a new human ancestor in the Philippines, who stood under three feet tall. The new hominin has been named Homo luzonensis after the island of Luzon where it was discovered in an excavation at Callou cave.

The island of Luzon has been a hotbed for archeological discoveries related to ancient human ancestors, including last year’s unearthing of 700,000-year-old stone tools used by human ancestors – a discovery that changed our understanding of hominid migration out of Eurasia and into southeast Asia by about half a million years.

Many have drawn parallels of the latest discovery to the dwarf-like human ancestor Homo floresiensis discovered on the nearby Indonesian island of Flores in 2004. This controversial “hobbit” ancestor of ours sparked intense debate as to whether it was a direct or distinctly separate ancestor, and now luzonensis finds itself in a similar debate.

But as the contention over this archaic hominin lineage plays out in academic circles, its implications on the course of our progression and alleged timeline could be profound.

Homo luzonensis toe bone courtesy Callou Cave Archeology Project

 

Instead of the stereotypical depiction of Darwinian evolution from knuckle-dragging ape to erect, bipedal human, it seems the paths of our ancestral origin splayed in a number of directions creating various iterations across the world.

One of the distinctive features of luzonensis is seen in the three roots found in some of its teeth – an uncommon trait seen in a small percent of modern humans, but more commonly found in other hominid ancestors like australopithecines, according to National Geographic

A row of H. luzonensis teeth courtesy Callou Cave Archeology Project

 

Scientists involved in the dig say it’s unclear whether luzonensis interbred with other hominins to create hybrid species like the recently discovered Denisovan-Neanderthal hybrid found in Siberia’s Denisova cave late last year.

But with the close proximity of H. floresiensis and H. luzonensis one has to wonder whether their paths ever crossed, whether one was a branch of the other, and what role their interaction had, if any, on Homo sapiens today.

Further digging is underway at the Callou cave to find more evidence of this mysterious and tiny human ancestor, as archeologists say they need more proof to confirm it as a distinct species.

With the multitude of recent groundbreaking archeological discoveries, including the missing ghost ancestor of humans, it seems we’re learning more and more that the traditional timeline of human evolution is drastically different from what we’ve been told.

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