About this Project

2015 – 2018

Thanks to the climatological conditions and scribal practices of Graeco-Roman Egypt, a number of handbooks from that region (and from no other in the Graeco-Roman ancient world) have reached us. These handbooks are precious witnesses to practices and processes of cultural transmission: i.e the creation, communication, transformation and preservation of knowledge (both in text and image) across history. Among these handbooks some of the most numerous concern magical knowledge, a field, it should be noted, of extraordinary diffusion and interest, from Mesopotamia to the present. These ancient magical handbooks provide unique entry into a corpus of knowledge at a particular period in a very long history that is otherwise lightly documented, and to the practices by which that field of knowledge was taught and transmitted. More than 40 such handbooks survive, some of them in a fragmentary state. This project re-edited and re-translated these handbooks, as well as carried out their first large-scale study as material objects and media of cultural transmission. 


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