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This chapter explores whether magic is an appropriate or useful term for scholars to use in the context of ancient Egypt. It provides a historical overview of the development of Egyptian magic from the third millennium BC until the end of paganism during the first centuries AD. The origins of magic in the creation and its preservation in medical papyri further associate Egyptian magic with learnedness. The earliest period of Egyptian history from which texts have survived is the Old Kingdom. Several types of material related to magic are attested from the Middle Kingdom. The close association between Egyptian magic and medicine becomes explicitly clear in the famous Edwin Smith Papyrus of about 1550 BC. The Egyptians were well aware of the dangers of black magic. Just as in the earlier periods, there are also extant in the Graeco-Roman epoch manuscripts of narratives on magicians.
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