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    Coptic Magical Papyri on the Road: 7th Biannual Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (Amsterdam, 2-4 July 2019)

    With conference season still in full swing, last week saw the seventh biannual conference of ESSWE – the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism – in Amsterdam. This was an incredibly diverse conference, with papers on fields ranging from Christian Kabbalah to spiritual cinema, and from the anthropology of modern New Age practices to the second sight in Victorian Scotland. Over a hundred talks in all, they were bound together by a set of common themes – consciousness, altered states, and extraordinary experiences. Here we will only be able to summarise very briefly the papers which discussed topics related to the ancient Mediterranean, but for those who would…

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    Coptic Magical Papyri on the Road: Deciphering the Uncertain (Oxford, 24-25 June, 2019)

    Conference season continued for our project with “Deciphering the Uncertain”, a two-day conference hosted by The University of Oxford China Centre. Organised by two Doctor of Philosophy Candidates at the University of Oxford, Flaminia Pischedda (Oriental Studies (Chinese)) and Domenico Giordani (Classics), the conference aimed to present a comprehensive, comparative appraisal of the structural features underpinning the universal human concern of uncertainty in “Early Text Cultures”. Ambitious in scope and execution, the conference featured panels on Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, Pre-Islamic Arabia, China, Japan, India, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe and Russia. The practices that were compared and contrasted across all these regions were those typically called…

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    Coptic Magical Papyri on the Road: The 19th Conference of the Association Francophone de Coptologie (Ottawa, 19-22 June, 2019)

    Northern-hemisphere summer is typically conference season in our field, and the conferences continued last week with the meeting of the Francophone Coptology Association (Association Francophone de Coptologie, or AFC) in Ottawa, Canada. Founded in 1982, the AFC is one of the world’s largest membership organisations for Coptic studies. French-speaking scholars have long been interested in Coptic – Jean-François Champollion, who deciphered hieroglyphs in the 1820s, claimed in a letter to have studied the language so much that he dreamed in Coptic, and the tradition of French-language scholarship, in countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, and of course, France, has remained vital to the present day. The topics covered in the…

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    Coptic Magical Papyri on the Road: Greek Curse Tablets of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods, Athens

    Last weekend (7-9 July 2019), I was fortunate enough to serve as a chair for the third conference in the series “Curses in Context”, organised by Christopher A. Faraone and Sofía Torallas Tovar of the University of Chicago at the Norwegian Institute at Athens. This fascinating conference series is aimed at understanding the material remains of curse rituals in the ancient Mediterranean – the short texts, usually written on lead, with which speakers of Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Coptic, and other languages tried to destroy their enemies and seduce potential lovers. These texts are particularly important for our knowledge of the ancient Mediterranean – not only because they are rich sources…

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    Coptic Magical Papyri on the Road: The Language of Magic Conference, Pescara

    At the end of May 2019, the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR) committee on “Charms, Charmers and Charming” organised the 12th annual interdisciplinary conference in Pescara, Italy. What was the topic? The language of magic. As this is a subject very important for our project, we decided to participate as well, particularly to hear what other academics have to say on the matter. The event was hosted by the D’Annunzio University of Chieti–Pescara. Pescara is a coastal city and the capital of the Abruzzo region. The settlement predates the Roman conquest and one of the most important historical figures was the 6th century bishop Cetteus, who is also…

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    Temporal Tracings and Magical Manuscripts Exhibition Opening

    On the 11th-12th of May 2019 our project participated in our first public event, the opening of the exhibition Tracés temporels et manuscrits magiques at the Atelier Mélusine in La Trimouille in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France. This show was a way for us to present Coptic magical manuscripts from another angle – treating their images as artistic creations, and using them as a way to explore how ancient magic was practiced and experienced. We were first contacted by the curator of Atelier Mélusine, Sally Annett, in December, and in collaboration with her we developed an exhibition that would allow the magical papyri to be experienced in new ways – visually, as art…

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    Exhibition Announcement: Tracés temporels et manuscrits magiques

    We are very pleased to be able to announce our first public event, an exhibition titled Tracés temporels et manuscrits magiques, which will be held at the Atelier de Mélusine in La Trimouille, France. The exhibition will consist of 24 tracings of drawings from Coptic, Demotic and Greek magical papyri, produced by our team members in collaboration with Dr. Raquel Martín Hernández whose project, To Zodion, is dedicated to such images. These prints will be accompanied by music created for the event by Dr. Luis Calero, an expert on ancient Greek music and performance, as well as a soloist singer, who has recorded reconstructions of the Hymn to Typhon from…