About this Project

The main purpose of this project is to produce a new edition and translation of the texts of the Greek, Demotic, and Coptic magical handbooks, from the second century BCE to the sixth century CE from Egypt, together with an integral study concerning the material production of these kinds of books in Antiquity as well as the dissemination of magical knowledge in the ancient Mediterranean. The standard edition of this corpus, the Papyri Graecae Magicae (1921), is outdated and ignores important material features of the papyri. Our new text and translation will appear in a two-volume, bilingual edition, a resource long awaited by scholars, not only papyrologists, but also historians of ancient Mediterranean religions and cultures. The full revision of the corpus of magical formularies has also been crucial to understanding the readership and circulation of these books. A companion volume of eleven essays on book production and transmission of these handbooks will be published simultaneously by the University of Michigan Press.

The project has recently been enhanced by two parallel projects directed by members of our team: one on the study of Coptic magic in Würzburg, and the other a database of magical drawings, the “To Zodion Project” at the Complutense in Madrid. We will soon be joining forces with a third project at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice focused on early Christian magic.

A spin-off of the project is already starting to take shape. The thorough revision of the corpus has allowed us to take a closer look to the language of the magical handbooks. We are starting to collaborate with colleagues at the University of Helsinki and the University of Oslo, who focus on the study of the language of the papyri.

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