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Experts That Crack A 1, 500-Year-Old Puzzle Are Left With One Wild Realization

The Past

If you pick up a history textbook, you will see that we think that we have most of our past figured out. This may not be as cut and dry as you may think. There are archaeological digs going on all the time, and we are finding new things that prove that what we thought was true may not have been. In 2019, this happened when a historian discovered a single artifact. It is a 500-year-old puzzle

Caesarea Maritima

It all began when a group of archaeologists was searching the Caesarea Maritima, which is an ancient amphitheater located in Israel. One of the best-preserved Roman sites in the area. It was built in 22 B.C. by King Herod. The amphitheater was a cultural hub for hundreds of years, and recently, it has been determined that the amphitheater was used for darker purposes than just concerts and plays.

Scouring the Theater

During the ’50s, a team of researchers searched the theater. During the search, they turned up some pretty exciting things. Many of the relics found gave the researchers a better idea of what Roman life was like back then. During the search, they came across something that had the archaeologists baffled. It was a lead tablet that contained Greek lettering. In the ’50, the translators were unable to read it. Over time, it had become eroded, leaving the message illegible. Because nobody could read the tablet, it was put into storage for close to 70 years.

Attilio Mastrocinque

The tablet would have remained forgotten in storage if it weren’t for a professor named Attilio Masatrocinque. He believed that he could succeed where others had failed, so he visited the Archaeological Museum of Milan. This was where the tablet was being stored. When he went to the museum, he brought along a piece of cutting-edge technology, and he promised that he could read the text. He was hoping that the text would include something interesting.

Reflectance Transformation Imaging

The Italian professor was sure that Reflectance Transformation Imaging could help decipher the text. The method involves taking tons of photos of an object from all different angles using different lighting. This is said to be able to reveal markings that are visible to the naked eye. Professor Mastrocinque was thrilled when he was able to see the barely visible inscription. This was the first time in thousands of years that the ancient message was visible.

The Next Step

Now that the professor got past the first hurdle of making the letters visible, it was time to translate the tablet. Translating the tablet wasn’t easy, but the professor refused to give up. It took a while, and soon, he learned that it was no ordinary message. The text was 110 lines, and he went through each line, one by one. The text in the tablet called out for many horrifying and captivating events to unfold. According to the text, it was all because of a dancer named Manna.

Performing At the Theater

Based on where the tablet was found, it is believed that Manna performed at the theater. The tablet had text that expressed the desire to “bind down the dancer and make him bent and unseemly.” It didn’t take long for the professor to realize that the text on the tablet was a curse. The tablet asked the demons of the sky, the demons of the air, the demons of the earth, underworld demons, demons of the sea, or the rivers, and demons of the spring to strike Manna down. The text also asked that Thoth, the ibis-headed Egyptian God of Judgment to step in. This surprised the professor because of the tablet being dated to 500 A.D.


The professor was surprised by what was written in the text because, by that point, Christianity was the predominant religion across the Roman Empire and beyond. The fact that the author of the text was invoking the magical gods because of contempt for Manna was shocking, and the professor wanted to know why.

A Theory

The professor had a theory about the reason for such contempt. Many of the dances that took place in the theater were more than easy-going performances. They were also competitions between rival factions. Manna’s performance could have had massive political implications. The professor believed that the person who wrote the tablet believed that their survival depended on taking down Manna by any means necessary. And somehow they discover a 500-year-old puzzle.

Digging Deeper With A 500-Year-Old Puzzle

The professor hopes that digging deeper into the theater will uncover more clues, and maybe even a record of the fateful performance. He believes that the only way to learn more about the dancer and what he did to make the author of the table so angry. Experts that crack a 1, 500-year-old puzzle are left with one wild realization. People were still relying on curses at a time when Christianity took over. Only time will tell if the professor will find the next piece of the puzzle.

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