Magic in Ancient Ephesus and Asia Minor

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Some mysterious spells that have survived even to our day are known as Ephesia Grammata. These words, which even the ancient Greeks had trouble deciphering, were found engraved in many places, including the temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

Magic in Ancient Ephesus and Asia Minor
Magic in Ancient Ephesus and Asia Minor

These words, which appear to have magical powers when spoken aloud, had to be pronounced flawlessly in order to work. The religion of the ancient Greeks inevitably included magic, as its roots were in mythology. Besides the supernatural powers of the gods, Ancient Greece was full of extraordinary creatures, forest, nymphs and demigods. In Greek mythology, magic could function independently of religion – even gods were sometimes influenced by magic.

Oracles in Ancient Ephesus

In ancient times, priests had a special place in Anatolia. It was believed that people could consult the gods through the priests, the most famous of which was the priestess in the temple of Artemis in Ephesus and the oracle in the temple of Apollo in Didyma.

Temple of Apollo in Didyma

While rituals such as sacrifice flesh reading or fortune-telling from the flight of birds were among the official state practices in ancient Ephesus, laws came later in the Christian era of Asia Minor prohibited magic and witchcraft. According to the law, the punishment for magic was to be crucified or thrown into wild animals. The wizard’s punishment was to be burned to death, and those caught with spell books were exiled to the islands.

Valeriya Gülday

I have been living in Turkey for more than ten years. I finished my education abroad on linguistics. Russian and Turkish are my native languages, and I am also fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese. I am on the senior year of tour guiding faculty and soon I wish I will be guiding all over Turkey!

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