Christopher A. Faraone
The Curse Tablets of PGM VII: A North African Tradition?
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A contiguous block of recipes ('Block Two') found in one magical handbook (PGM VII), differ markedly from others in the same handbook and contain features that point to an origin outside of Upper Egypt: (i) they mention the sea as an alternate place of deposition for the curse; (ii) they use seashells as a media for curses; and (iii) they refer to chariot races of the Roman sort, which as far as we can tell were never popular in Egypt. All of these features suggest that this block of recipes in PGM VII originated in some coastal area outside of Egypt and eventually made its way to Upper Egypt. And since North Africa is – as far as we can tell – the only place in the circum-Mediterranean basin where seashells were used in curses, I close by suggesting that this may have been place where the recipes in Block Two of PGM VII may have originally been created.