I wanted to take a moment to welcome you to the blog which accompanies the Ancient Curses project. You can learn more about this project (and myself) on the About Page.
This blog will mostly cover curses and curse stories as I encounter them in my research and attempt to understand the role of curses in ancient society. The study of cursing in antiquity is fraught with methodological issues. How do we define curses? Who practiced them? Why are similar phenomena labelled differently depending on the context? These are just some of the questions which confront those who study this area. The editorial colour which shades these practices must be noted, for what often lies underneath the rhetorical veneer are many shades of grey.
My approach is a bit minimalistic: A curse, is a curse, is a curse. My view is that plenty can be said about curses and the societies that produced them without resorting to caricatures, hagiography, or convoluted taxonomy. Thus, this project will cover a large range of material in an attempt to comprehensively survey the subject matter and find points of convergence as well as roads of departure. Among the sources are Near Eastern curses, literary curses (from classical and Biblical literature), and materials such as curse tablets and other forms of sympathetic malediction practices.
As for the blog, the approach taken will also be diverse, with some posts strictly recounting curses (with a bit of analysis of course!) while others will look more in-depth at the methodological questions which surround the practice of cursing (e.g. how do we define those who made curses?). I also hope to bring in, from time-to-time, some contemporary stories and examples, to show how the curses remain relevant in our “modern” world.
If you have a favourite curse that you think should be looked at, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photo by Zde.