Incantations Within Akkadian Medical Texts

Authored by: M. J. Geller

The Babylonian World

Print publication date:  August  2007
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415353465
eBook ISBN: 9780203946237
Adobe ISBN: 9781134261284


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The use of magical incantations within Akkadian medicine has long been recognised as a characteristic feature of healing therapy in Babylonia, although often with the wrong inferences being made. Historians of medicine have seen Babylonian medicine as influenced by magic and less rational than its Greek counterpart (Sigerist: 1955: I, 477ff). This misconception about Babylonian medicine stems from a period when relatively few Babylonian medical texts (and medical incantations) had been published, although significant progress had been made in publishing major Sumer-ian and Akkadian magical texts, such as Utukku Lemn?tu (Thompson 1903), Shurpu (Reiner 1970) and Maqlû (Meier 1967). Recent publications on Babylonian medicine (Stol 1993 and 2000; Heeßel 2000) allow for a more balanced view of Babylonian magic and medicine, and we can assess how incantations within the medical corpus affect our attitudes towards the rational nature of Babylonian medicine.

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