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Ancient Egyptian Magic

A Hands-on Guide

Christina Riggs


An entertaining introduction to the ways ancient Egyptians practised magic in their daily lives.

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In the ancient world the magicians of Egypt were considered the best. But was magic harmless fun, heartfelt hope, or something darker? Whether you needed a love charm, a chat with your dead wife, or the ability to fly like a bird, an Egyptian magician had just the thing. Christina Riggs explores how the Egyptians thought about magic, who performed it and why, and also helps readers understand why we’ve come to think of ancient Egypt in such a mystical, magical way in the first place.
This book takes Egyptian magic seriously, using ancient texts and images to tackle the blurry distinctions between magic, religion and medicine. Along the way, readers will learn how to cure scorpion bites, why you might want to break the legs off your stuffed hippopotamus toy, and whether mummies really can come back to life. Readers will also (if so inclined) be able to save a fortune on pregnancy tests by simply urinating on barley seeds, and learn how to use the next street parade to predict the future – or ensure that annoying neighbour gets his comeuppance.


'Lively and engaging … gives an insightful glimpse of what preyed on ancient Egyptian minds'

'Enchanting stuff'
BBC History Revealed

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback without Jacket

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 208 pp

Illustrations: 67

Publication date: 26 March 2020

ISBN: 9780500052129

Contents List

Introduction • 1. Magic Words • 2. Princes, Priests and Sorcerers • 3. Dealing with the Dead • 4. A Magical Menagerie • 5. When the Snake Bites… • 6. Love, Sex, Babies • 7. Predicting the Future • 8. Magical Thinking

About the Author

Christina Riggs is chair in the history of visual culture, Durham University, and a fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. She is the author of six books, including Ancient Egyptian Art and Architecture: A Very Short Introduction. She writes for a range of newspapers and magazines and has appeared in radio and TV shows for the BBC, National Geographic, and the History Channel.

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