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Archaeology, consistently warned off religion by wise old heads, here rushes deeper into the thicket to tackle the thorny topic of ancient witchcraft. The occasion was a seminar at Harvard organised by Stephen Mitchell and Neil Price to mark the twentieth anniversary of Carlo Ginzburg's influential book on the connections between witches and shamanism – and by implication the possible connections with prehistoric ritual and belief. Archaeology was by no means the only voice at the meeting, which was attended by scholars active in history, literature, divinity and anthropology. The discussions revealed much that was entangled in the modern psyche: ‘don't let's tame strangeness’ was one leitmotiv of this stimulating colloquium. A romantic attachment to the irrational is a feature of our time, especially among academics. But maybe taming strangeness is an archaeologist's real job…