• Coptic Amulets,  Coptic Magic

    Coptic Amulets IV: Jesus Christ, give healing, quickly, quickly!

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into another healing amulet from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts. This tall thin sheet of parchment, 30.5cm in height but only 4.5cm in width, was filled with an applied text, a text with the name of its client written upon it. The amulet was produced to protect a man named Mina, son of Euprepri and Zoe, from all manner of illnesses through the names and powers of Jesus Christ. Although dated by its first editor, Viktor Stegemann, to the 5th century CE, some of the ways certain words in the text are spelled suggest it could be later. The photograph of…

  • Podcast

    Podcast #3: Koptische Magie und Alchemie mit Sebastian Richter

    In our third podcast episode – recorded this time in German – we sat down with Professor Sebastian Richter from the Free University of Berlin, expert on Coptic language and papyrology to discuss, among other topics, the possible relationship between Coptic magical and alchemical texts. What did alchemy mean in the context of Byzantine and Islamic Egypt? What alchemical processes do the manuscripts edited by Professor Richter uncover, and who wrote them? Listen and enjoy! In unserem dritten Podcast – ausnahmsweise in deutscher Sprache aufgenommen – haben wir uns mit Prof. Sebastian Richter von der Freien Universität Berlin zusammengesetzt, um die mögliche Beziehung zwischen koptischen magischen und alchemistischen Texten zu…

  • Coptic Curses

    Coptic Curses V: Pshai, Ouales, and the Scorching of the Mustard

    This week we’re going to take another look at one of the most unusual magical texts to survive from Late Antique Egypt, P. Kell. Copt. 35, a letter containing a magical spell intended to separate a couple. We already discussed this text briefly in our post about Manichaeism and magic – like all of the texts from the ancient oasis-city of Kellis, this papyrus was uncovered by the excavations of the team from the University of Monash in Melbourne, Australia, led by Colin Hope. It was found in House 3 of Area A, inhabited in the fourth century by several generations of an extended family of Manicheans, who abandoned it…

  • Coptic Curses

    Coptic Curses IV: “The curses of God, the Law, and Deuteronomy will descend upon Alō and Phibamōn!”

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into an applied curse from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts. P. Mich. inv. 3565 is a papyrus sheet of 20.9 by 30.3 cm. With five horizontal and three vertical creases, it looks as if the papyrus was folded into a rectangular package of approximately 4 by 7.5 cm, before being deposited, as was invariably the case with curses, at or near the houses of the targets, crossroads where they might pass, or in tombs. The online catalogue entry for this manuscript records that the papyrus was purchased from Maurice Nahman – a famous antiquities dealer – in 1925 and came to…

  • Looking at the Coptic Magical Papyri

    Looking at the Coptic Magical Papyri

    This fourteen-part series looks at the corpus of Coptic-language magical manuscripts, looking at them as both physical objects and as texts. Defining Magical Texts Formularies and Applied Texts Boundary-Crossing Texts Time… …and Space Writing Materials Manuscript Formats Changes in Manuscript Formats Magical Archives Egyptian Languages Magic between Languages Coptic Dialects Types of Magic Modern Collections

  • Podcast

    Podcast #2: Coptic Magic and Gnosticism with Dylan Burns

    In our second podcast episode, we discuss the relationship between magic and Gnosticism with the scholar Dylan Burns, expert on the topic. What is Gnosticism? Is there a connection between Coptic magical texts and Gnostic texts? How does Dylan Burns perceive contemporary academia? Please, have patience with these lower quality podcasts before we figure out a way of increasing the audio quality. Thank you! You can listen to our podcast here, or you can find it on Spotify, Stitcher and Podcast Addict. Our podcast is available on iTunes as well. A link to the podcast is also on the sidebar, on the right.

  • Looking at the Coptic Magical Papyri

    Looking at the Coptic Magical Papyri XIV: Modern Collections

    In an earlier post in this series we talked about where the Coptic magical papyri come from – Egypt, and to a lesser extent, Sudan – but we noted that the majority of manuscripts had been purchased by foreign collections through the antiquities market. In this post we’ll look at where the Coptic magical manuscripts are now, and how they ended up there.  492 of the 508 Coptic-language magical manuscripts in our database have information on their present location. The country with the largest number is Germany, which has 140, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, and France, which have more than 30 each. 28 are still…

  • Coptic Love Spells

    Coptic Love Spells I: “You will burn her heart and soul”

    This week’s post is the first in a mini-series about the manuscript Leiden F 1964/4.14. Although this manuscript is only one sheet of parchment, it is a formulary containing a series of recipes, ranging from curses to destroy individuals and separate couples, to those intended to reconcile couples or induce sexual desire. Dating paleographically to the 11th century CE, this formulary is among the latest preserved witnesses to Coptic magic. Edited by Michael Green in 1987, the recipes of this formulary were not included in the collection “Ancient Christian Magic” edited by Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith, and so they are not very well known. As one of the many…

  • Podcast

    Podcast #1: Coptic Magic with Jacques van der Vliet

    In the first podcast episode, created by the Coptic Magical Papyri project based at the University of Würzburg, Germany, we discuss ancient magic with professor Jacques van der Vliet of the University of Leiden, an expert on Coptic manuscripts, Gnosticism and ancient magic. Who was the ancient magician? What were his magical practices? You can listen to our podcast here, or you can find it on Spotify, Stitcher and Podcast Addict. Our podcast will be coming soon on iTunes as well. A link to the podcast is also on the sidebar, on the right.

  • Looking at the Coptic Magical Papyri

    Looking at the Coptic Magical Papyri XIII: Types of Magic

    This week our project has hit another milestone – we now have all published Coptic magical texts (and a few unpublished ones) entered into our database. This is quite exciting for us, as it will make the process of editing and re-editing texts much faster, and we hope to make them available to the general public in the near future. Full information on the database will appear below, but in this post we’ll use the data we now have to explore the types of magic found in Coptic texts.  The most common type of practice in the Coptic magical papyri is healing – practices intended to deal with health problems…