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Publisher's Summary

Over the last few centuries, magic has developed a bad reputation - thanks to the unsavory tactics of shady practitioners and to a successful propaganda campaign on the part of religion and science, which denigrated magic as backward, irrational, and "primitive". In Magic, however, the Oxford Professor of Archaeology Chris Gosden restores magic to its essential place in the history of the world - revealing it to be an enduring element of human behavior that plays an important role for individuals and cultures. From the curses and charms of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish magic, to the shamanistic traditions of Eurasia, indigenous America, and Africa; from the alchemy of the Renaissance to the condemnation of magic in the colonial period and the mysteries of modern quantum physics - Gosden's startling, fun, and colorful history supplies a missing chapter of the story of our civilization.

Drawing on decades of research around the world - touching on the first known horoscope, a statue ordered into exile, and the mystical power of tattoos - Gosden shows what magic can offer us today and how we might use it to rethink our relationship with the world. Magic is an original, singular, and sweeping work of scholarship, and its revelations will leave a spell on the listener.

©2020 Chris Gosden (P)2020 Tantor

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Outstanding Readable Survey of Recent Scholarship

Great survey of recent archaeology and interpretations. Major focus on archaeology of Asia Minor and the Asian Steppes and how it pertains to all of Eurasia. Not likely to to be the final word, but a good overview of where we're at in 2020.

Magic/Religion/Science - Gosden sees them as a perpetual triad, not a linear sequence. Science is found in prehistoric times - and magic in modern.

This book lends itself to "dropping in" - each section can stand on its own as well as part of a larger flow.

1 person found this helpful