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A Magic Spell Book from Ancient Egypt

Friday, November 21, 2014

egypt-magic-spells-deciphered-invocations

(Effy Alexakis/Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—A mysterious ancient Egyptian parchment codex that has been in the collection of Macquarie University in Australia for more than three decades has finally been deciphered and found to contain a series of invocations and spells. The book, which likely dates to the seventh or eighth century A.D. and is written in the Egyptian language called Coptic contains a variety of spells—some love spells, some to exorcise evil spirits, and others to treat infections. As to who would have used these spells, lead researcher Malcolm Choat told Livescience, “It is my sense that there were ritual practitioners outside the ranks of the clergy and monks, but exactly who they were is shielded from us by the fact that people didn’t really want to belabeled as a “magician.”

To read about all kinds of ancient magic, see ARCHAEOLOGY’S “When Spells Worked Magic.”

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