This papyrus sheet contains two love charms. While over 1400 years old, the charms are, well, charming. The top part of the sheet instructs the user how to get a good singing voice – and who wouldn’t want that? Certain words had to be written in a chalice, which apparently worked miracles to the voice. The second charm is more in line with what we would expect a person activating a charm to pursue: a woman’s heart. Again words needed to be written down, this time on a sheet of tin, after which the writing had to be buried at the woman’s door. Such charms were deemed powerful; powerful enough to have them written down on expensive material, possibly by a third – professional – party. I can’t help thinking of this pair as plan A and B: if the singing failed, a potent alternative was to secure the desired woman’s heart. Success guaranteed.

Pic: New Haven, Beinecke Library, Call Number P.CtYBR inv. 1791 (Coptic, Egypt, 6th or 7th century): source of the image and more information. Here is another papyrus love charm.