What are „Charaktêres“?

Charaktêres is the ancient term used for specific signs that were applied in contexts of interaction with higher powers. They are usually referred to as „magical signs“ or „Zauberzeichen“. The earliest evidence for their application is attested on a curse tablet from Athens dated to the late first cent. CE. By the second century the signs are attested all over the Roman Empire, from Great Britain to North Africa and Egypt, and from Spain to the Black Sea. One of the many fascinating facts about these signs is that they are still in use today. My research is focused on the Greek, Demotic, Latin and Coptic sources dated between the 1st and the 12th cent. CE.

The ancient sources in which the charaktêres appear include:

  1. Inscribed artifacts like papyrus and parchment amulets, gold, silver and copper lamellae, curse tablets, gemstones and instruments,
  2. Ritual instruction manuals, in which the exact application of the signs and the ritual in which they are implemented in are described in detail (see: http://blog.charakteres.com/archives/615),
  3. Literary sources like Iamblichus et alii
Januar 10, 2017 @ 0:26