Objects that appear to have been used by folk sorcerers were discovered along the ancient road that led from Egypt to Mecca about 400 years ago
On the way to Mecca, they stop at a professional sorcerer: Muslim pilgrims who made their way from Egypt to Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula at the beginning of the Ottoman period - about 400 years ago, participated in magical ceremonies with "professional" sorcerers.
study recently published by Dr Itamar Taksel from the Antiquities Authority, Dr. Uzi Avner from the Desert and Dead Sea R&D and Dr. Nitzan Amiti-Price from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which was published in the Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World, analyzed an assemblage of objects discovered in the late 90s at an archaeological site in the Eilat mountains. The researchers believe that these objects were used for magical rituals to banish the evil eye, cure diseases and more.
According to Dr. Taksel, Avner and Amitie-Price, "the discovery shows that, just like today, along with belief in the official religion, people in the Ottoman period used to use folk sorcerers as well."
"The objects were discovered by Motti Shemtov, a resident of Eilat, and following the discovery, an excavation was conducted at the site by Uzi Avner and Asaf Holtzer on behalf of the Antiquities Authority. The objects, which were discovered together and refer to rituals or worship, mainly include dozens of fragments of pottery rattles, most of which resemble a ping-pong ball, and they contained small stones that made a rustling sound when the rattle was moved. Also, two miniature altar-like objects were found which were used - probably for burning incense, a statuette (statuette) of a naked woman or goddess with her hands raised up in the position typical of gods and priests, several fragments of other statuettes, and pebbles of colored quartz stones. An examination of the clay from which the various pottery objects were assembled revealed that the objects originated in Egypt. This is the first time that such a large amount of unique ceremonial objects of this type has been discovered together, and also in a temporary site, which was not used as a permanent settlement."
The objects were discovered next to the Pilgrim's Road (Arabic: Darb al-Hajj) that left Cairo, crossed the Sinai Peninsula and continued through the present-day Eilat Mountains to the city of Aqaba - and from there to the Arabian Peninsula. The road was used from the first centuries after the rise of Islam - in the 7th century AD, until the end of the 19th century.
Along the section of the road that passed through the mountains of Eilat, several parking sites and buildings were discovered that served the pilgrims, and it seems that the main period of time in which these sites operated was during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, starting from the 13th or 14th century onwards.
"The location of the objects - on the edge of the parking lot, and a comparison of the objects with information from around the Muslim world - as well as the fact that these objects were found in one spot, allows us to suggest that they were used for magical rituals. the objects
They were found broken - and may have even been broken on purpose as part of those rituals. Apparently these ceremonies were conducted at the site by one or more people who specialized in folk "magicians". From literary sources we know that they were in demand
among people from different strata of the population. "Such magic ceremonies took place from day to day alongside the worship of the "official" religion, including in the Muslim world, and it seems that the pilgrims who made their way to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina were not unusual in this respect," say the researchers.
According to Dr. Omri Barzilai, Director of the Southern Region at the Antiquities Authority, "The Darb al-Haj road passes through the city of Eilat. The road and the sites along it will become part of a unique regional archaeological-tourist route promoted by the Ministry of Tourism. The Antiquities Authority will work to develop and make the road accessible to the general public and plans to hold educational activities that will make the heritage of the place accessible to the public.
According to Eli Escozido, director of the Antiquities Authority, "As part of the project "Publishing Obligations of Past Excavations" of the Antiquities Authority, old archaeological excavations that have not previously reached scientific publication are published. Contemporary research sheds light on archaeological finds and excavations that have long been forgotten and which deserve to appear in research books. The story of Darb al Hajj is an example of the importance of the project."
More of the topic in Hayadan: