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Magic in the Ancient World
Wed, July 19, 2017 7:00 P.M.
Education Philosophy and Religion Department at
Parkway Central Library
In ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, practitioners of magic exploited symbolic words, images, and rituals to achieve desired outcomes through supernatural means. Using magical acts they attempted to control supernatural powers—gods, demons, spirits, or ghosts—to accomplish something beyond the scope of human capabilities. Ancient cultures used magic as a way of managing or understanding the present, controlling supernatural agencies, and seeing the future.
The exhibit Magic in the Ancient World (on display at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology through October 2017) began as a curatorial seminar led by Prof. Robert Ousterhout (History of Art, Penn) and Prof. Grant Frame (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Penn). It features objects from the museum’s rich collections of the Near East, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Mediterranean sections.
In his talk, Prof. Ousterhout will present an overview of the exhibit and its themes, suggesting ways in which ancient magic might still be relevant today.