Material Approaches to Roman Magic: Occult Objects and Supernatural Substances

The second volume in the thematic series TRAC Themes in Roman Archaeology (published by Oxbow Books), is titled Material Approaches to Roman Magic: Occult Objects and Supernatural Substances, edited by Adam Parker and Stuart Mckie.

Reviews of Material Approaches to Roman Magic:

BMCR Review 


This second volume in the TRAC Themes in Roman Archaeology series seeks to push the research agendas of materiality and lived experience further into the study of Roman magic, a field that has, until recently, lacked object-focused analysis. Building on the pioneering studies in Boschung and Bremmer’s (2015) Materiality of Magic, the editors of the present volume have collected contributions that showcase the value of richly-detailed, context-specific explorations of the magical practices of the Roman world. By concentrating primarily on the Imperial period and the western provinces, the various contributions demonstrate very clearly the exceptional range of influences and possibilities open to individuals who sought to use magical rituals to affect their lives in these specific contexts – something that would have been largely impossible in earlier periods of antiquity. Contributions are presented from a range of museum professionals, commercial archaeologists, university academics and postgraduate students, making a compelling case for strengthening lines of communication between these related areas of expertise.



1. Series Foreword – Sergio Gonzalez Sanchez (TRAC Standing Committee)

2. Introduction – Stuart McKie (University of Manchester) and Adam Parker (Open University)

3. The Medium Matters: Materiality and Metaphor in Some Latin Curse Tablets – Celia Sanchez Natalias (University of the Basque Country)

4. Phallic Magic: A Cross Cultural Approach to Roman Phallic Small Finds – Alissa Whitmore (University of Iowa) 

5. Little Bottles of Power: Roman glass unguentaria in Magic, Ritual, and Poisoning – Thomas Derrick (University of Leicester) 

6. Victory of Good over Evil? Amuletic Animal Images on Roman Engraved Gems – Idit Sagiv (Tel-Aviv University) 

7. ‘The Bells! The Bells!’ Approaching Tintinnabulae in Roman Britain and Beyond – Adam Parker (Open University)

8. Rubbing and Rolling, Burning and Burying: The Magical Use of Amber in Roman London – Glynn Davis (Museum of London) 

9. Linking Magic and Medicine in Early Roman Britain: The ‘Doctor’s’ Burial, Stanway, Camulodunum – Nicky Garland (Newcastle University) 

10. The Archaeology of Ritual in the Domestic Sphere: Case Studies from Karanis and Pompeii – Andrew Wilburn (Oberlin College)

11. The Legs, Hands, Head and Arms Race: The human body as a magical weapon in the Roman World-  Stuart McKie (University of Manchester)

12. Conclusion – Veronique Dasen (Universität Freiburg) 



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