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Images: Digging Up Demon Traps in Ancient Sardis

Ritual Deposits at Sardis

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

These deposits were buried under an ancient floor in Sardis nearly 2,000 years ago. Archaeologists who found them in 2013 suspect the artifacts may have been part of a ritual to ward off disaster.

Sardis Today

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

Sardis is located in modern-day western Turkey. In the year 17 A.D., it was rocked by a devastating earthquake.

Before Excavation

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

During the summer of 2013, archaeologists excavated a room that was built after the quake.

Ritual Deposit Discovery

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

When the team dug through the floor, they found the first traces of a ritual deposit.

Walking on Eggshells

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

Inside the buried bowls, the archaeologists found an eggshell, several bronze tools and a coin.

Zeus Lydios

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

The coin depicted Zeus Lydios, the father god of the region.

Deposit No. 2

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

Another deposit was found under the floor, though this one was quite crushed.

Same Strange Collection

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

This vessel also contained bronze tools and pieces of an eggshell, and a coin was found next to the deposit.

Cybele

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

The graffiti lion incised on this coin is likely a symbol of the goddess Cybele, often associated with mountains.

Lucky Charms

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

The strange deposits were placed right on top of a home that was destroyed during the 17 A.D. earthquake. The archaeologists think these objects may have been buried to prevent future disasters. Eggs and bronze tools also have a long history of association with curses and protection against evil forces.

Puppy burials

(Image credit: ©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis / Harvard University)

There seems to be a long tradition of ritual burials at Sardis. In the 1960s, for example, archaeologists found 30 of these "ritual dinners" or "puppy burials" at Sardis, which date back nearly 500 years before the eggshell offerings were buried.