Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

The History of Magic

From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present

Chris Gosden



In stock
Ready to ship


29 September 2020
A unique history of the forgotten, oldest strand of human history, and its resurgence today Three great strands of practice and belief run through human history - science, religion and magic. Over the last few centuries, magic - the idea that we have a connection with the universe, and that the universe responds to us - has developed a bad reputation. But it is still with us, as it has been for millennia, as Professor Chris Gosden shows in this extraordinarily bold and unprecedented history.

As Gosden argues, magic preceded religion and science. It has been with us from the curses and charms of ancient Greek, Roman and Jewish magic, to the shamanistic traditions of Eurasia, indigenous America and Africa, the alchemy of the Renaissance, colonial dismissals of magic as backwards, and quantum physics today - where magic and science converge. Today seventy-five per cent of the adult population of the Western world holds some belief in magic, whether in our attitude toward the relationship between mind and matter or in our treatment of everyday objects like living beings.

Drawing on his decades of research around the world, with incredible breadth and authority, and stunning detail - from the first known horoscope to the power of tattoos - Gosden reveals magic's positive traits and how we might use it to rethink our relationship with the world. This timely history of human thought across thousands of years rightly shows the role that magic has played in shaping civilization.
By:   Chris Gosden
Imprint:   Viking
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 44mm
Weight:   760g
ISBN:   9780241294819
ISBN 10:   0241294819
Pages:   496
Publication Date:   29 September 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Chris Gosden is Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford. Previously he was 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 and the chair of trustees for Oxford Archaeology. He has written or edited eighteen academic books. This is his first trade book.

Reviews for The History of Magic: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present

The History of Magic is a major contribution to an important but neglected subject. It should be read not only by archaeologists and anthropologists but by everyone interested in the human condition -- Barry Cunliffe, author of The Scythians

See Also