Launching GEMF vol.I

Choosing Tuesday 13th to launch this book is no coincidence: we are talking about the first volume of Greek and Egyptian Magical Formularies (GEMF). This volume, the first in a series of two, is the result of many years of work by a large international team of experts (papyrologists, Greek philologists, Demotic experts, historians of religions, etc.) coordinated by Sofia Torallas and Christopher A. Faraone (University of Chicago). This research work, developed under the auspices of the Project Transmission of Magical Knowledge in Antiquity: The Papyrus Magical Handbooks in Context, aims to offer the public a new vision of the great Greco-Egyptian magical handbooks. This volume is, therefore, the first tangible output of this project.

This new edition, in which we have tried to be as faithful as possible to the text and appearance of these papyri in their manuscript version, includes the Demotic and Coptic texts, and is accompanied by a critical apparatus and a new annotated translation. Through these notes we have sought to provide users with the information and tools necessary to understand some aspects of the complex world of these texts. Each papyrus also has its own introduction, in which aspects of the form, content, history and preservation of each piece are discussed. Our aim with this work, which will soon be followed by a second volume of texts, is to make available to the general and specialist public a reference edition for the study of these testimonies of the ancient (magical) ritual practice.

Tuesday’s presentation took place in the cosy setting of the Fundación Pastor de Estudios Clásicos (Madrid) and was held by Sofía Torallas Tovar (PI of the project, chief editor and professor at the University of Chicago), Alberto Nodar Domínguez (Pompeu Fabra University; papyrologist and expert in palaeographical issues); Raquel Martín Hernández (University Complutense of Madrid, responsible for editing the images and paratextual elements of the papyri) and myself, as editor of one of the pieces. We would like to thank all the friends, family and colleagues who came to the event for the friendly atmosphere in the auditorium.



Black Inks in Late Antiquity: a Case Study from the Greek Magical Papyri

From 25 to 30 July 2022 the 30th International Congress of Papyrology took place in Paris at the College de France. Every three years, this congress brings together papyrologists from all over the world to share their research and work.

In this context, I have presented a sample of a research project that I would like to develop over the next few months: the study of recipes for the preparation of historical inks from Greco-Roman Egypt.

There are many testimonies of recipes for the preparation of inks that have come down to us from the ancient world.

Their study may seem trivial, because in our current culture we have normalised the act of writing, but the story of ink is the story of a technological invention that revolutionised writing and, with it, the transmission of ideas, our ability to communicate and the preservation of knowledge. The so-called Greek magical papyri (papyri that transmit ritual practices of a non-normative nature) contain several recipes for preparing inks. In this paper (“The Carbon Inks of the Greek Magical Papyri: in search of technical patterns”) I focused on a single case study with the intention of demonstrating two arguments: first, that beneath the apparent diversity of the recipes, some are traceable to the very same method; second, that some of these ritual inks are -as in the case study- ordinary inks adapted to a ritual use.

Continue reading