Chris Faraone and myself decided to dedicate full attention to an extraordinary codex, preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. It is a fourth-century CE papyrus codex from Upper Egypt. This handbook is over seventy inscribed pages long and is equivalent in length to four or five normal-sized papyrus rolls. The research team on the Transmission of Magical Knowledge project has been re-editing and re-translating all of the magical handbooks from Roman Egypt. This work has revealed that the papyrus codex from Upper Egypt, long understood as the “typical” or “model” handbook of the age, is, in fact, a marvelous outlier in the group, a manuscript that was probably never used for the preparation of quotidian magical spells, but rather a book to be read and to fire the imagination of its readers.
We organized a conference in which we honored this fascinating document with twelve talks, focusing on different aspects, both on its materiality and its content. For the program, go here.