The Babylonians depicted ghosts and wrote about how to exorcise them 3,500 years ago

Anita Durairaj

The earliest drawing of a ghost has been identified on an ancient Babylonian clay tablet that is 3,500 years old. The drawing was made in ancient Babylon which is present-day Iran.

The ancient drawing features a lonely ghost or spirit led into the afterlife by its lover.

The drawing was first discovered in the British Museum by the Curator in the Middle Eastern Department. The ancient tablet was acquired by the British Museum in 1883 but was overlooked for decades before Curator Dr. Irving Finkel decided to take a closer look at it. Dr. Finkel made the discovery of the oldest drawing of a ghost late last year in 2021.

According to Dr. Finkel, the drawing of the ghost can only be seen when it is viewed from above and under a light. The clay tablet is also very small and can fit into the palm of the hand.

The front of the clay tablet featured the drawing of the ghost while the back served as an instruction manual for the exorcism of a ghost. The guidelines were written to get rid of a ghost that took hold of a person and tormented him or her. At the end of the written text, a warning message proclaimed "Do not look behind you." The solution to getting rid of the ghost was to give it a lover.

Since the drawing of the ghost is considered to be the oldest in the world, the Guinness Book of World Records also has it listed as the "oldest depiction of a ghost."

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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