Archaeologists have made a spectacular discovery during the expansion works of the city hall in Rostock (state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), located on the northeast coast of Germany. A seemingly unremarkable piece of metal has turned out to be a ‘cursed tablet’.

It is a piece of rolled lead. Unrolling it, researchers were able to read the words “sathanas taleke belzebuk hinrik berith“. It is a curse directed against a woman named Taleke and a certain Hinrik (Heinrich).

Both were to deal with the demons Satan, Beelzebub, and Berith. Was someone trying to break the relationship between Taleke and Heinrich? Was it a case of scorned love and jealousy, or rather an attempt to get someone out of the way?

What makes the find so special? According to Dr. Jörg Ansorge, the excavation director: Cursed tablets from ancient Greece and Rome are known, dating from the period between 800 B.C. and 600 A.D. Our discovery, on the other hand, can be dated to the 15th century. It is truly a very special find. According to Dr. Ansorge, similar finds from the Middle Ages are not known.

The Gothic lowercase writing is barely recognizable at first glance. It is a well-established script, not a scribble. The tablet was discovered on the floor of a latrine at the end of a property.

In ancient times, cursed tablets were placed in difficult or impossible-to-find places. The cursed individuals were not supposed to find out about the impending misfortune. This allowed the spell of harm to unfold undisturbed.

Dr. Jörg Ansorge and his team have now discovered all accessible basements of An der Hege, behind the city hall. These are six pitched-roof medieval houses that were significantly remodelled after the fire of 1677. The plot distribution was also radically changed. Almost all houses in the neighborhood were destroyed during the bombings of 1942.

The basement of An der Hege 4 dates back to the 13th century. Around 1880/90, a new Wilhelminian-style building was constructed over it. In the medieval basement, traces of craftsmanship and dwellings were found, such as a three-legged pot hearth and a fieldstone staircase.

Special artifacts found in the pitched-roof houses were various taps from the 16th-17th centuries. They originated from northern Germany and were made of bronze. This confirms written evidence that beer was once brewed in private homes. The embedded wooden water pipes and cisterns in the basement floor align with this. These containers, around one cubic meter in size, served as cisterns.

The remains of what is likely the oldest stone house in the city center, discovered at house numbers 7/8, are now the subject of study for construction researcher Torsten Rütz from Greifswald. As part of a construction history investigation, he is identifying the different construction phases.

It is unclear for what specific purpose the building was used. It was built between 1230 and 1250, at the end of the Romanesque period, in the early Gothic brick era. At that time, only wooden houses were constructed. In the late 13th century, two pitched-roof houses were built on the site of the eave house.

Overall, Dr. Jörg Ansorge is satisfied with the excavation results. This site is very poor in findings. For example, we haven’t discovered any latrines from the Renaissance or Baroque periods. But when we find something, it is of top quality, like the Valencian metallic reflection ceramics, the exceptionally preserved leather shoe, and the curse tablet.


Sources

Hanse- und Universitätsstadt Rostock (Rostock City Official Web)


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