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Egyptian and Jewish Magic in Antiquity

  • 2015-07-06
  • 2015-07-09
  • University of Bonn, Germany

Contexts, Contacts, Continuities and Comparisons: A Collaborative International Conference in Ancient Magic

The EJMA Conference will be a four days forum for scholars to exchange their innovative work in ancient Egyptian and Jewish magic. The focus will be on the historical continuity and change of ancient Egyptian and ancient Jewish magical practices from antiquity to the early middle ages. Particularly, we will study the similarities, the differences, and the points of contact between these two magical traditions, with a strong emphasis on the impact of Pharaonic magic on early medieval (Coptic, Jewish and Islamic) magical practices. 

We believe that, by studying two different ancient magical traditions from an historical perspective and with a view to a territorial continuity (in the land of Egypt), we will attain a more accurate and fluid overview of the Egyptian and Jewish magical lore throughout the centuries.

The conference will include a series of lectures on Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic/ Christian, Jewish and Islamic magic, as well as panel discussions and laboratory activities focusing both on philological (textual evidence) and archeological analysis (material evidence: magical tools, objects, or themes related to the archaeology of magic). 

The specific topics to be addressed are related to the continuity and changes of ancient Egyptian and Jewish magic throughout the centuries or the influence of ancient Egyptian magic on the Jewish, Christian or Muslim magical traditions, especially as practiced in communities that dwelt in the Land of Egypt in later periods. We have selected papers illuminating the main aspects of the theory of ancient magic or presenting specific magical rituals concerning in particular funerary magic, healing magic, aggressive magic, defensive magic, love magic, oneiric magic, transformative magic, necromancy and demonology.

In addition, we have planned six ‘laboratory encounters’, in which some of the conference participants will coordinate an informal discussion on the selected textual and archaeological material, in a way that will make these objects accessible to scholars of other ancient magical traditions. We believe these ‘laboratory encounters’, which will be carried out as academic workshops open also to the interested students, would represent one of the major achievements of the conference, by allowing scholars from different disciplines to develop a methodology to work together and exchange ideas on ancient magical sources.

Scientific Committee

  • Prof. Gideon Bohak (Tel Aviv University)
  • Dr. Rita Lucarelli (Department of Near Eastern Studies of the University of California, Berkeley)
  • Allesia Bellusci (Tel Aviv University)

University of Bonn, Egyptological Department, Regina-Pacis Weg 7. 53113 Bonn, Germany

For further information check the conference homepage at

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