In ancient Pompei, the "evil eye" was never far from the thoughts of the people.
When archeologists excavated the ruins of the city, centuries after its destruction by the volcano Vesuvius, they found some intriguing features that were unique to it.
Built into the walls, streets, ceilings and door posts, were huge representations of sexually explicit images. They were everywhere. Scholars did not know what to make of these images and what it said about the city and its inhabitants. Were they sexuall deviants who had developed an early form of extreme pornography, or was there another explanation?
John Elliot, of the University of San Fransisco, is one of the most prominent experts on the subject of the evil eye. "Protection against the Evil Eye is naturally a major preoccupation in Evil Eye cultures, ancient and modern. Devices and strategies for deflecting or distracting the Evil Eye were numerous and varied. All public places, thoroughfares, city walls, public squares, work places, holy sites, and graves were protected..." Among the devices and strategies were these images that would be impossible to ignore. They were called fascina, and to be distracted by them was to be fascinated.