The Book Club

What can be learnt from the history of magic?

45 min listen

In This Episode

On this week’s books podcast, my guess is Oxford University’s Professor of European Archaeology, Chris Gosden. Chris’s new book The History of Magic: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, From the Ice Age to the Present opens up what he sees as a side of human history that has been occluded by propaganda from science and religion. Accordingly, he delves back to evidence from the earliest human settlements all over the world to learn about our magical past – one thread in what he calls the ‘triple-helix’ of our cultural history. He tells me why John Dee got a bad rap, where magic wands came from – and why, unusually as an academic, he argues that magic isn’t just an anthropological curiosity but might, in fact, have something useful to teach us.

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