Magic Artifacts Unearthed on Historic Egypt-Mecca Route

magic artifacts unearthed on historic egypt mecca route.jpg Science

In a captivating revelation from the past, Israeli researchers have unveiled that ancient artifacts discovered in the 1990s were likely utilized for magical rituals approximately 400 years ago. The team, consisting of Dr. Itamar Taxel of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Dr. Uzi Avner of the Dead Sea-Arava Science Center, and Dr. Nitzan Amitai-Preiss of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently published their research in the Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World. The artifacts, unearthed at an archaeological site in Eilat, were believed to have been used in ceremonies to ward off the evil eye, heal diseases, and more.

These intriguing findings shed light on the practices of the Early Ottoman Period, suggesting that, similarly to today, people consulted popular sorcerers in addition to adhering to the formal doctrines of their official religion. Among the artifacts discovered by Eilat resident Moti Shemtov were fragments of round clay rattles filled with small stones, miniature incense altars, a small figurine of a naked woman or goddess, and colored quartz pebbles. This discovery marks the first time that such a vast collection of ritual objects has been found, particularly at a temporary site rather than a permanent settlement.

Magic Ritual Artifacts from 400 Years Ago Unearthed in Israel

Recently, Israeli researchers have made a fascinating discovery that provides a glimpse into the life of people during the Early Ottoman Period. Artifacts unearthed in Eilat, initially discovered in the 1990s, are believed to have been used for magic rituals about 400 years ago. This research was published in the Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World and offers intriguing insights into the practices of the time.

Discovering the Artifacts

The artifacts were first discovered by Moti Shemtov, a resident of Eilat. Following this, an archaeological excavation was led by Uzi Avner and Asaf Holzer from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The team of researchers, including Dr. Itamar Taxel, Dr. Uzi Avner, and Dr. Nitzan Amitai-Preiss, believe that these artifacts were used in magical rituals for purposes such as warding off the evil eye and healing diseases. Their study reveals that sorcerers were consulted alongside formal religious practices during the Early Ottoman Period, much like today.

Ritual Artifacts and Their Significance

The findings include fragments of round clay rattles filled with small stones, two miniature incense altars, a small figurine of a naked woman or goddess with raised hands, additional figurines, and colored quartz pebbles. The rattles, when shaken, would make a noise and were associated with various rituals and ceremonies. The clay used in these artifacts was traced back to Egypt. This collection is unique due to its size and the fact that it was found at a temporary site, not a permanent settlement.

The Artifacts and the Pilgrimage Road

Interestingly, these artifacts were found along the Pilgrimage Road, or Darb al-Hajj in Arabic, a route that led from Cairo, crossed the Sinai Peninsula, and continued to the town of Aqaba, eventually reaching Mecca. This route was in use from the first centuries after the rise of Islam, from the 7th century CE until the 19th century CE. The artifacts were likely used in magical rituals by one or several people who specialized in these ceremonies, catering to pilgrims making their way to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Future Plans and Preservation

The Israel Antiquities Authority plans to make the road more accessible and organize educational activities for the public, emphasizing its cultural heritage role. Dr. Omry Barzilai, Southern Regional Archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, stated that the road runs through the municipal boundaries of Eilat. It, along with its adjacent archaeological sites, is set to become a unique regional area for archaeological tourism promoted by the Ministry of Tourism.

Final Thoughts

This fascinating discovery plays a significant role in understanding the culture and practices of the Early Ottoman Period. The artifacts not only reveal the existence of magic rituals alongside formal religious practices but also illuminate the broader cultural context of the time. The initiative by the Israel Antiquities Authority to make these sites accessible to the public further underscores the importance of preserving and appreciating our shared human heritage.

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