This is the world’s oldest image of a ghost

Unknown to a British Museum curator, a ghost or rather the oldest known image of one was found on a 3500-year-old Babylonian clay tablet. The image of the tall, pale-colored spirit holding his hands closed illustrates an ancient ritual to exorcise ghosts that pursue people and take their lives.
Irving Finkel, curator of the British Museums Middle East department, is a specialist on cuneiform (the angular writing system used by the ancient Babylonian civilization). He recently translated the text from the ritual that had been unread since the British Museum acquired it in the 1800s. Museums across Europe were eager to stockpile Babylonian artifacts. Curators would often pay local people for the privilege of looting clay and stone tablets from archaeological sites in Iraq. Many of these items were shipped without any information or context, and ended up in storage.

Seeing ghosts

For example, the ghost tablet had not been made visible to the public and its text had not been translated. The ghostly image hidden on the back of the clay tablet was not noticed by anyone. This side is blank until it is viewed at the right angle. The ghost image appears to jump out at you.

The illustration shows a woman wearing a long, flowing dress leading the bound ghost to the afterlife. The ritual on the other side of the tablet was intended to expel a ghost and to relieve the loneliness that kept it from the world of the living.


Finkel explained to The Guardians Dalya that it was possible to imagine a tall, thin and bearded ghost roaming around the house. Finkel concluded that the ghost needed a lover.

Finkel hopes to display the tablet in the future. Finkel believes that the exorcism ritual and its ideas about what might prevent a spirit sleeping reveal how little humanity has changed over the past 3,000 years. It sheds light on an ancient civilization that is often overlooked.

This culture is important to me. Alberge was told by him that Egypt always wins Hollywood. If the Babylonian Underworld is any like what was described, they're still there. Keep that in mind.

This can be done at home

This is a quick summary of the tablet for those who need it to exterminate a lonely ghost this Halloween.

Prepare two figurines. One to represent the ghost, one to the partner you are offering it to. Although there is no actual human sacrifice, it's convenient for home projects. However, the text assumes that you are dealing with a male ghost who would prefer a female partner. Adjust accordingly for less heteronormative hauntings.

You dress the man in a regular shift and provide travel supplies. You wrap the woman with four red clothes and cover her with a purple fabric. You give the woman a gold brooch. You provide her with a bed, chair and mat.

Once your figurines are ready, it's time to put everything together for the ritual. Set up two beer vessels made of carnelian at sunrise. Set up a special vessel, and a juniper censer. The tablet advises that you draw the curtain in the same way as a diviner. Then, you [put] the figurines and their equipment together and put them in place.

It is now time to invoke the Babylonian god Sun, who also served as judge of underworld. You can say: Shamash

Perhaps the most important piece of advice: Don't look behind you.