Images of power and the power of images
Graeco-roman magical formularies have attracted the attention of scholars since their first publications during the 19th century. Eversince, an increasing number of studies have been devoted to these amazing texts. Most of them were based on the text of these formularies from different perspectives: philology, history of religions, philosophy, gender studies. Being the text the main focus of all of the studies, other particularities of these ancient books, like materiality, techniques of composition, and drawings and designs, have been neglected.
Drawings and designs are common in Graeco-egyptian magical handbooks and, curiously, their study and interpretation have not been attended in depth by scholars. However, magical drawings are a key feature to better understand the magical significance of these texts. Magical drawings are a relevant part of the ritual transmitted in these books, as as a kind of performative language codified in a different code that must be interpreted and analyzed. Studying magical drawings and designs along with the text and other formal aspects of magical handbooks will contribute in understanding how magical knowledge was transmitted in Antiquity.
The project, directed by Raquel Martín Hernández, member of the team DVCTVS (www.dvctvs.upf.edu) aims to study magical drawings and designs in the corpus of magical formularies. The database is an effort of systematization to grant access to all the essential information to interpret magical drawings in its contexts and in relation to other magical designs. It is a practical tool that will allow people interested in magical rituals to obtain the material, textual, and iconographical information of all the drawings appearing in magical formularies, to facilitate the comprehension of the magical prescription as a whole. This project was started granted by the BBVA Foundation Grants for Researchers and Cultural Creators a nd funded by the BBVA Foundation in 2015. Its development is part of the results of the project "Interpretación y análisis de los textos en papiro de las colecciones españolas: sociedad, religión y derecho" financed by the Ministry of Sciences and Innovation and the project “Transmission of Magical Knowledge. The Papyrus Magical Handbooks in Context” funded by Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago.