• 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…

  • Coptic Curses

    Coptic Curses III: “You will shatter the face of so-and-so!”

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into a curse from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts, by returning to a manuscript already discussed in a previous post: P. Heidelberg inv. Kopt. 681 is a sheet of parchment, cut into a long rectangle measuring 29.5cm by 10.9cm. As introduced in the post Coptic Amulets II: Sending an angel to give grace, this sheet is a formulary – a manuscript containing one or more spell(s) with formulas to be filled in, rather than an activated text – containing the name of the person who would benefit from, or be cursed by, the spell. The flesh side of the parchment, the…

  • News

    Names of Thrones: Koptische Überlieferungen zu den 24 Presbytern der Johannes-Apokalypse

    Am 6. Februar 2020 begrüßen wir unseren dritten und letzten Gast des Semesters in der Seminarreihe Magic and Religion in Coptic Textual Culture am Lehrstuhl für Ägyptologie Würzburg, gefördert vom Universitätsbund. Prof. Dr. Sebastian Richter ist Professor für Ägyptologie mit dem Schwerpunkt Koptologie am Ägyptologischen Seminar der Freien Universität Berlin und Akademieprofessor der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. In der Vision des Gottesthrons in Kap. 4-5 der neutestamentlichen Offenbarung des Johannes figurieren “24 Älteste (presbyteroi)”. Wie so viele Details des Throns und seiner Entourage, so hat auch das Motiv der Ältesten seine Wurzeln in jüdischen Überlieferungen. Und wie zahlreiche Motive aus dem Bilderschatz der Johannes-Apokalypse, so hat auch das jener 24…