• 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