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Book: Theorizing Religion in Antiquity

Chapter: 9. Magic and Religion in Ancient Egypt

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.27969


In ancient Egypt there are no emic terms that we could translate as 'religion' or 'magic'. For decades, Egyptologists have been using these terms in contrast to each other when describing the official, more sophisticated religious activities of the temple versus the personal and more limited magical practices as described in spells. The most recent trend in studies of ancient Egyptian magic, instead, considers it as an integral part of religion. In this essay the textual and material evidence of religious and magical practices, rituals and artifacts produced during the long span of the ancient Egyptian history, which stretches from Prehistory through the Pharaonic and until the Graeco-Roman Period, will be discussed in order to illustrate the main theoretical issues related to the ancient Egyptian beliefs and activities concerned with the supernatural and according to an emic perspective on the available sources.

Chapter Contributors

  • Rita Lucarelli ( - rlucarelli) 'University of California at Berkeley'