The oldest ghost, from 3,500 years ago, was uncovered by chance

Adam Zapel
4 min readOct 21, 2021

A picture recently discovered on an ancient ghost board of a lone man whose hands are tied and he is following a mistress, is probably the oldest ghost story ever found

This is how it looks

Documentation of the world’s oldest ghost story, from 3,500 years ago, may have been discovered by chance while locked in a safe at the British Museum — an ancient Babylonian clay tablet engraved with a ghost figure and the way to get rid of it, the museum’s curator told the Middle East. Dr. Irving Finkel.

According to Dr. Finkel, so far they have completely ignored the board purchased by the museum in the 19th century, but now they have discovered that it features a part of an exorcism guide that explains how to get rid of unwanted spirits — To the next world and eternal happiness. He says in the peg script that it is explained as part of a guide to releasing unwanted spirits by referring to the particular weakness that brought them back to the world of life — in this case a ghost desperately in need of a mate. Held by a woman, while the accompanying text details a complex ceremony that will happily send them together to the next world.

“Obviously it’s a male ghost and he’s miserable. You can imagine a bearded, tall, slender ghost roaming the house would indeed get on the tenants’ nerves. Their final analysis was that what this ghost needs is a lover,” he told the Guardian and went on to describe the possible situation: “It’s impossible not to imagine what happened before — ‘Oh God, Uncle Henry is back’ — maybe Uncle Henry lost three wives and everyone knew the way to get rid of the old snooze was to marry him. It’s not something you have to imagine and strive to understand. It’s a kind of explicit message — There is very high quality writing and impeccable drawing, “he said, adding:” The idea that someone thought he could get rid of a ghost by giving him a bed mate is pretty comical. “

As a global authority on peg writing, the earliest writing of mankind used in the ancient Middle East, Finkel realized that the tablet had been misinterpreted in the past. In fact they did not see the painting at all because the spirit can only be seen from above and below the light and so it lay for about 200 years in a safe and was not displayed at all in the museum.

Finkel went on to say, “Apparently whoever looked at the board would not have given it any further thought, for in the area where the paintings appear there seems to be no writing, but when you examine it carefully and hold it under the lamp, these figures leap towards you in the most astonishing way.”

While half of the board is missing and is so small that it can be held in the palm of the hand, on its back there is extensive text with instructions for dealing with a ghost “that catches the person and haunts him and cannot be released”. Dr. Finkel explains that “the ceremony includes the creation of figurines of a man and a woman. You dress the man in everyday clothes and equip him with what he needs for the ride. You wrap the woman figure in four red cloths and dress her in a purple garment, give her a gold brooch, equip her with a bed, chair, mat, and towel and you give her a comb and a bottle. At sunrise you turn towards the sun, make the ceremonial arrangements and set up two vessels made of carnelian gems filled with beer. In addition, you place a special incense burner full of juniper. You put the figurines along with their equipment and place them in a position and turn to Shamash, who was to the sun and also to justice and law in ancient Babylon. The text ends with a warning: “Do not look back!”.

Finkel believes the tablet was part of a magic and sorcery library that was in the house of a ghost or temple. He now hopes to display the Babylonian calendar in the museum, noting that such an object brings us closer to our ancestors: “All the fears and weaknesses and characteristics that make the human race so fascinating — undoubtedly existed even 3,500 years ago. I want people to know more about this culture. Ancient Egyptian culture “Always a winner in Hollywood, but it’s an object for the Guinness Book of Records — because how can anyone have a ghost painting from an earlier period?”