UCL Institute of Jewish Studies


International Hybrid Conference - The intertwining of magic and knowledge/sciences

18 May 2023–19 May 2023, 3:30 pm–7:30 pm

Magic Conference picture

The intertwining of magic and knowledge/sciences in the premodern Mediterranean (and beyond)

This event is free.

Event Information

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Institute Of Jewish Studies


via zoom

The intertwining of magic and knowledge/sciences in the premodern Mediterranean (and beyond)  

Sponsored and organized by the research network Between Encyclopaedia and Epitome – Talmudic strategies of knowledge-making in the context of ancient medicine and sciences https://fit.uni-tuebingen.de/Project/Details?id=9826  (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, University College London, Freie Universität Berlin, Paris Institute for Advanced Study)

In past scholarship magic has often been discussed as the “eternal other” or complete opposite of either religion or rationale and scientific thought — or both. These dichotomies have been thoroughly revised during recent decades and researchers substantially broadened and nuanced our understanding of ancient magic. Still, the discourse tends to revolve around
conceptualizations and questions of applicability or proximity between magic, religion and ritual. This conference highlights a different aspect of magic in the ancient and medieval world. The specific perspective enquires into magic but not as part of any dichotomy. Rather, the focus lies on ‘magic’ as a branch of knowledge of its own which was part of the ancient landscape of sciences, arts, crafts, and general know-how, closely entangled with other fields. Accordingly, papers will discuss how magical texts, artefacts, practices, or concepts intertwine with those (in) other branches of knowledge such as medicine, alchemy, celestial knowledge, liturgy and others. Contributors will examine how ‘magic’ was involved in the often subtle or indirect transmission and transformation of knowledge. Analysis will be based on sources from a variety of magical traditions, from the Near East and Europe in ancient and medieval periods.

Organized by Lennart Lehmhaus (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen), Markham J. Geller (Institute of Jewish Studies, University College London), David Hamidovic (Université de Lausanne), Wissem Gueddich (École Pratique des Hautes Études), Florentina Badalanova Geller (Institut d'études avancées de Paris / Royal Anthropological Institute, London), and Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (École pratique des hautes études, Paris).


Conference schedule - See the most up to date schedule by clicking here


Co-sponsored by the Paris Institute for Advanced Study (IEA/IAS).

Venue: La Fondation Victor Lyon (Auditorium), 

29 Boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris, France

15:30 Arrival/Welcome

16:00 Session 1: Transmission, Scribal Knowledge and Intertextuality

David Hamidovic (Université de Lausanne), The Ritual of the Woman in Adultery in the Damascus Document (4Q266 12; 4Q2704): An Example of Transmission and Recontextualization.

Eleonora Serra (Université de Lausanne / University College London), Intertextuality in the Magic Bowls.

17:30 Break

18:00 Session 2: Practical Medicine, Recipes and Animal Parts

Caroline Petit ((University of Warwick), Galen, Empiricism, and The Fragments of Xenocrates of Aphrodisias

Lennart Lehmhaus (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen), (Don’t) Stop the Magic – magic rituals, performance, and expertise as practical medicine in late antique rabbinic texts.

19:30 Dinner (at the FVL) : (for participants only)



co-sponsored by École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE),

Venue: INHA, Institut National d'Histoire de l'art, (Salle Vasari)

2 rue Vivienne, Paris 75002

9:00 Session 3: Ritual Techniques and the Knowledge of Animals and Other Species

Thomas Galoppin (University of Toulouse), The Names of the Beasts: Zoological Knowledge and Magical Language.

Paolo Lucca (Ca Foscari, Venice), Roaring Demons and Hunting Saints. Typology and function of the historiola in the Armenian magical texts.

10:30 Coffee Break (Salle Warburg)

11:00 Session 4 (zoom): Divination, Demons, and Drugs

Stefanie Rudolf (MPIWG, Berlin/ Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen), Demons of infertility in a pharmacological garden: King Solomons dialogue with the angel of the spirit in Syriac sources.

Gideon Bohak (Tel Aviv University), Divination and Magic in Late-Antique Judaism.

12:30 Lunch Break (Salle Warburg) : (for participants only)

14:00 Session 5: Materialities of Magic

Monika Amsler (University of Bern), Some Thoughts on the Materiality and Affordances of Babylonian Incantation Bowls.

Wissem Gueddich (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris), A Hebrew Parchment from Clermont l'Hérault?

15:30 Coffee Break (Salle Warburg)

16:00 Session 6 (zoom): Compilation and Appropriation of Traditions and Artefacts

Emma Abate (University of Bologna), Amulets and Recipes: A pinch of Magic from the Hebrew manuscripts collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF).

Yakir Paz (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Translating Jannes and Jambres into Rabbinic Literature.

17:30 Short Break

17:45 Session 7: Sleep Well - Dream Magic in Religion, Liturgy, and Medicine

Alessia Bellusci (Ca Foscari, Venice), The longue durée of dreams in Jewish culture: Between magic, medicine, and religion.

Final Discussion

From 19:00 / 19:30 Conference Dinner at a restaurant (for participants only)


Zoom information:

Topic: The intertwining of magic and knowledge/sciences in the premodern mediterranean (and beyond)
Time: May 18, 2023 08:30 AM Paris until May 19, 2023, 2 occurrence(s)
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Meeting ID: 834 8984 4239
Passcode: 007464

For in-person attendance, please register with:

About the Speakers

Emma Abate

at University of Bologna

Monika Amsler

at University of Bern

Florentina Badalanova Geller

at Institut d'Etudes Avancées de Paris / Royal Anthropological Institute, London

Alessia Bellusci

at Ca Foscari, Venice

Gideon Bohak

at Tel Aviv University

Thomas Galoppin

at University of Toulouse

Markham J. Geller

at University College London

Wissem Gueddich

at EPHE, Paris

David Hamidovic

at Université de Lausanne

Paolo Lucca

at Ca Foscari, Venice

Lennart Lehmhaus

at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Yakir Paz

at Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Caroline Petit

at University of Warwick

Stefanie Rudolf

at MPIWG, Berlin/ Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Eleonora Serra

at Université de Lausanne/University College London

Judith OlszowySchlanger

at École pratique des hautes études, Paris