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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55611
Doc. No:TL25565
Call number:‭3186790‬
Main Entry:Andrew T. Wilburn
Title & Author:Materia magica: The archaeology of magic in Roman Egypt, Cyprus, and SpainAndrew T. Wilburn
College:University of Michigan
Date:2005
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2005
Page No:294
Abstract:During the ancient Roman period, individuals across the Empire practiced magic and employed magicians for numerous reasons, including cursing a litigator and attracting a lover. Ancient practitioners intoned spells and manipulated objects in the enactment of their craft. My dissertation unites the study of magical texts with the study of the material record to pinpoint the social, cultural and depositional environments of magical artifacts. In order to consider local variations in magical practices and assess the spread of magical knowledge, I compare archaeological and textual evidence for magical activity at three disparate sites: Karanis in the Egyptian Fayum, Amathous on Cyprus, and Empúries on the eastern coast of Spain. I argue that the archaeological context of magical artifacts enhances our understanding of ancient magical practices (Chapter 1). In Egypt, long rolls and fragmentary pieces of papyrus preserve a written record of ancient magical instructions and spells. Analysis of the findspots of such papyri indicates that magical formulae were distributed throughout Egypt, although these same formulae probably were not disseminated to other areas of the Mediterranean (Chapter 2). The rich archaeological record at Karanis suggests that both protective and aggressive forms of magic were practiced in domestic settings throughout the town (Chapter 3). A different picture emerges at Amathous, where a cache of over 200 curse tablets was deposited on the outskirts of town. This cache implies the presence of multiple magicians working at the margins of the settlement area. Because a number of tablets curse provincial officials, this cache provides evidence that magic may have served as a forum of resistance against the governing elite (Chapter 4). At Empúries, the archaeological investigation of three nearly identical curse tablets reveals that each was deposited among the ashes of the deceased as an act of resistance against Roman intervention in a territorial dispute (Chapter 5). This interdisciplinary study of magic in Egypt, Cyprus, and Spain demonstrates local variations in magical practice and conclusively illustrates the value of combining archaeological, literary, epigraphic, and papyrological evidence for recovering magical practices in disparate communities.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Archaeology; Cyprus; Egypt; Magic; Roman Empire; Spain; Ancient civilizations; Religion; 0579:Ancient civilizations; 0324:Archaeology; 0318:Religion
Added Entry:S. E. G. Alcock, Traianos
Added Entry:University of Michigan