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Charaktêres: Ancient Magic and Ritual Practice Knowledge Hub

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Charaktêres: Ancient Magic and Ritual Practice Knowledge Hub
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Charaktêres is the ancient term used for specific signs that were applied in contexts of interaction and communication with higher powers, or, less academically, in contexts of magic and ritual practice. Today, these signs are commonly referred to as „magic signs“ or „Zauberzeichen“.

About magic signs

The earliest attestations for the use of magic signs date back to the late first century CE. Only about a hundred years later they are spread over the Roman Empire. The signs occur on amulets, curse tablets, gold and silver tablets, gem stones, instruments and many other artefacts. A much wider range of their use is transmitted in ancient ritual manuals, mainly the Greek, Coptic and Demotic manuals. The making and use of over 300 inscribed artefacts is preserved in these manuals, 50 of which depict magic signs. A third source is provided by the literary record.

The number of individual sign types reaches into the thousands, they are attested on more than 1.000 ancient artefacts. Yet until recently no substantial research had been conducted to compile and analyse these tremendous sources systematically.


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