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About Websites and Blogs on Ancient Magic
Campell Bonner Magical Gems Database
Magical gems known today number about 4000 pieces and are preserved in different museums and private collections worldwide, often inaccessible for the public. The groundbreaking, and still fundamental, study on magical gems was published in 1950 by American scholar Campbell Bonner, who then described a tenth of the corpus in his Studies on Magical Amulets. In 2004 Simone Michel listed over 2800 pieces in her monograph Die Magischen Gemmen.
Named after Bonner, the primary aim of the Campbell Bonner Magical Gems Database (CBd) is to bring the entire corpus of magical gems online in order to make them better accessible for both scholars and the public, and to facilitate their study through the potentials offered by a digital database.
Penn Museum: Magic in the Ancient World
An exhibit in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. April 16, 2016 – April 30, 2017. Protective amulets, incantation bowls, curse tablets, powerful rings, magical stones, and anatomical votives—these objects and more, once used by ancient peoples seeking to fulfill desires through supernatural means, are featured in Magic in the Ancient World.
Deeply entwined with science and religion, magic was a real and everyday part of life for many ancient peoples around the world. Ancient magic addressed many of the dreams, hopes, and passions humans grapple with today: desire for health and wellbeing, protection from evil—even revenge. Magic in the Ancient World takes a survey approach, featuring 81 artifacts from the Penn Museum’s collections. The exhibition explores some of the magical objects, words, and rituals used in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome.
From the Online Companion to The Worlds of Roman Women: World of Religion: Texts.
Although they are rarely dated, curse inscriptions are a unique source of information about oral Latin and literacy; they are sources for the voices of humble women, who had few avenues for written expression. Curses were written on wax, broken pottery, or lead, materials from the earth and thus closely connected to the underworld. Lead was hammered into a thin sheet, inscribed with a stylus, often folded or rolled and then pierced with a special nail to "fix" its power (defigo); the tablet might be placed in a sealed lead container by itself or with other materials, deposited in still or running water or in a pit or grave, or affixed flat to the wall of a shrine.
Fathom Archive: Greek Love Magic: Interview with Chris Faraone
Chris Faraone, noted scholar of Greek Magic, discusses the difference between erotic magic and other types in ancient Greece.
The TheDeMa (Thesaurus Defixionum Magdeburgensis) database has been created to offer offer scholars an updatable corpus of all known curse tablets. In German and English
Construction and Use of Ancient Greek Poppets
This essay addresses the use and construction of ancient Greek poppets (ritual effigies, “voodoo dolls”); it is based primarily on “Binding and Burying the Forces of Evil,” by Christopher Faraone, which is cited in full at the end of this essay. In ancient Greek such a ritual image was usually called a Kolossos, a word of uncertain origin, which can refer to an effigy of any kind. The Greek use of these effigies dates from at least the fourth century BCE and is similar to their use throughout the Mediterranean, although of course there are regional differences. One distinguishing characteristic of the Greek use of Kolossoi is that it is primarily defensive; it is generally aimed at containing a hostile force, rather than destroying it.
Curse Tablets from Roman Britain
The following pages introduce curse tablets in the ancient world at large and in Britain in particular. They outline the preparation of curses, from making the tablet through writing the text to dispatching the curse to the gods. They examine the languages and scripts in which they were written, the cursers, the scribes and those who were cursed. Motives for cursing and the supernatural powers engaged to put curses into effect are investigated. We explore too where tablets are found and how they are preserved and interpreted by archaeologists and historians.
Throughout this introduction cross-references are made to the tablets and to the archaeological sites presented elsewhere in this website. Evidence from other curse tablets in Britain, especially Bath, and across the ancient world is also used.