- Execration Texts -

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A particular type of magical text are texts listing places, groups of people or individuals that were considered dangerous, hostile or evil. They were written on statues of prisoners or on jars, that were broken and then buried, as part of the ritual destruction of the enemies listed in the texts.

Statues or shards with these execration texts have been found throughout Egypt, but particularly near tombs in Thebes and Saqqara, and near the Middle Kingdom fortresses in Nubia. The enemies listed in these execration texts could be Egypt's traditional enemies, as well as specific ones. It is, however, hard to distinguish between texts that refer to real, existing enemies and those that are just copies of older ones or that list ancient enemies that no longer pose a threat to Egypt. To fully understand the historical value of an execration text, it is necessary to study the context in which it was found and to compare it with the other texts.

One example found near a fortress in Nubia was written on a skull. It is not impossible that this skull belonged to a member of a group that the Egyptians in command of the fortress considered hostile. By decapitating him and writing an execration text on his skull, the Egyptians probably wanted to magically transfer the fate of that individual to his entire group.

The oldest known examples of this type of text are dated to the Old Kingdom, but they remain popular throughout pharaonic history. The example to the right, scribbled on a crude statue representing an enemy, is dated to the 1st Intermediate Period and can now be found at the Louvre Museum. The arms of the statue are not present, probably to magically render the enemy it represents incapable of causing any harm.

Execration text scribbled on a crude statue, dated to the 1st Intermediate Period.

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