The History of Magic: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present
Professor Gosden will discuss his book ‘A History of Magic ‘ (Viking 2020) – a remarkable, unprecedented account of the role of magic in cultures both ancient and modern — from the first known horoscope to the power of tattoos.
Three great strands of practice and belief run through human history: science, religion and magic. But magic – the idea that we have a connection with the universe – has developed a bad reputation.
It has been with us for millennia – from the curses and charms of ancient Greek, Roman and Jewish magic, to the shamanistic traditions of Eurasia, indigenous America and Africa, and even quantum physics today. Even today seventy-five per cent of the Western world holds some belief in magic, whether snapping wishbones, buying lottery tickets or giving names to inanimate objects.
Drawing on his decades of research, with incredible breadth and authority, Professor Chris Gosden provides a timely history of human thought and the role it has played in shaping civilization, and how we might use magic to rethink our understanding of the world.
About the Author
Chris Gosden is Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford. Previously he was a curator and lecturer at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, where he encountered many magical objects, displayed in a scientific manner. Chris is a fellow of the British Academy and the Society of Antiquaries, as well as a trustee of the Art Fund, the British Museum and chair of trustees for Oxford Archaeology. He has written or edited eighteen academic books. This is his first trade book.
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