Babylonian Medicine

Freie Universität Berlin

38th Meeting “Arbeitskreis Alte Medizin” Mainz: Call for Papers

Prof. Dr. Tanja Pommerening, Head of Arbeitskreis „Alte Medizin“ invites papers for the annual meeting at Mainz, June 30 and July 1, 2018.
Submission deadline is on Feb 21, 2018.

There is the possibility of a travel grant funding for junior scientists.

CfP and further details see the project website of Arbeitskreis Alte Medizin, Mainz.


“Nurses, Midwives, Healers, and Talmudic Medical Encyclopedism”

“Nurses, Midwives, Healers, and Talmudic Medical Encyclopedism”
by L. Lehmhaus


The talk examines Talmudic discourse on healthcare as an arena of cultural competition and transfer between Jews and non-Jews. It is part of the 55th Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins with the theme “What Did Ancient Jews Know? Exploring the Place of Scientific Knowledge in the World of Ancient Judaism”

University of Pennsylvania, Department of Religious Studies
Thursday, December 7, 2017
For further information, visit:


Lennart Lehmhaus, currently a Rothfeld Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (UPenn) in Philadelphia, is a postdoctoral researcher in the collaborative project on Ancient Medical Compendia (CRC/SFB 980 “Episteme in Motion”) directed by M. J. Geller and Ph. J. van der Eijk at Freie Universiät Berlin/Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

“Als hätte man den Mailserver geknackt….”: DER SPIEGEL über BabMed

SPIEGEL-Journalist J. Groll will es genau wissen – einen ganzen Nachmittag lang berichten ihm Ulrike Steinert und Markham J. Geller zum BabMed-Projekt, in der aktuellen Ausgabe des SPIEGEL liest jetzt auch die Öffentlichkeit mit:



BabMed @Harvard — U. Steinert’s talk at the National History Museum available on Youtube.


Ulrike Steinert’s lecture at the Harvard National History Museum in September 2017 is now available on Youtube:

For abstract and further information, please see our BabMed website.


An Affair of Herbal Medicine? The ‘Special’ Kitchen in the Royal Palace of Ebla

By Agnese Vacca, Luca Peyronel, and Claudia Wachter-Sarkady

In antiquity, like today, humans needed a wide range of medicines, but until recently there has been little direct archaeological evidence for producing medicines. That evidence, however, also suggests that Near Eastern palaces may have been in the pharmaceutical business.

Most of the medical treatments documented in Ancient Near Eastern cuneiform texts dating to the 3rd-1st millennium BCE consisted of herbal remedies, but correlating ancient names with plant species remains very difficult. Medical texts describe ingredients and recipes to treat specific symptoms and to produce desired effects, such as emetics, purgatives, and expectorants. Plants were cooked, dried or crushed and mixed with carriers such as water, wine, beer, honey or milk —also to make them tastier. Indeed, plants used in medicine were often toxic or unpalatable and were not consumed as food. For several plant species it appears difficult to ascertain whether they were used as pharmacological remedies, psychoactive substances, or both. For some specific diseases (such as impotence) both therapeutic and magical treatments are documented, and in most cases a clear distinction between the two cannot be made….

Please read further on the ASOR (American Schools of Oriental Research) blog:

An Affair of Herbal Medicine? The ‘Special’ Kitchen in the Royal Palace of Ebla

First infertility diagnosis discovered in cuneiform tablet

The first diagnosis to determine infertility was made 4,000 years ago, an ancient Assyrian clay tablet discovered by Turkish researchers in central Kayseri province revealed Thursday.

Read more at Daily Sabah:


Talmudic Discourses on Socio-Medical Interactions in Late Antiquity: L. Lehmhaus at UVA.


Lennart Lehmhaus speaks about

“Between ‘Gentile Healing’ and ‘Giving Life to Idolaters’: Talmudic

Discourses on Socio-Medical Interactions in Late Antiquity.”


University of Virginia, Department of Religious Studies

Monday, November 6, 2017


For further information, visit:

2017_11_UnivVirgina_Lehmhaus_announcement poster


Lennart Lehmhaus, currently a Rothfeld Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (UPenn) in Philadelphia, is a postdoctoral researcher in the collaborative project on Ancient Medical Compendia directed by M. J. Geller and Ph. J. van der Eijk at Freie Universiät Berlin/Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

Paris, 11/2017: Bodies in Stone and Clay: Perception and Images of Living Beings in Mesopotamia.

Corps en pierre et argile: perception et images d’êtres vivants dans la Mésopotamie des II et I mill. av. J.C .
international conference organized by the UMR 7192 (Laura Battini and Anne-Isabelle Langlois) and held in Paris (Collège de France),

November 9-10, 2017

Scholars specialist in images, in history and in biology who are also interested in the body and its representations exchange their point of view.

The study of the body and of bodies has changed dramatically in the last two decades thanks to the more recognized LGBT community, to the advances of medicine and to the quick development of digital images. So, how do specialists on antiquity now think about the subject ? Linked to the Gender Studies, this conference would like to consider the body with a more historical and biological approach, setting the subject in the context of Mesopotamian society of the II mill. and I mill. BC.

The conference aims to follow the biological changes which occur to a corpse from birth to death as well as the cultural responses to these alterations. In fact, the changes break the social networks and for restructuring them some actions are necessary (depiction of faces or bodies, magic words, changing of dresses…). Can they differ on the basis of sex and status? And is the representation in the texts as well as in the art linked to these actions? Can we reconstruct the image of an ‘ideal’ body? And by contrast, what is the opposite one?



Jeudi 9 novembre – Amphithéâtre Budé

9h00                 Accueil par Dominique Charpin, Professeur au Collège de France

9h15-9h30         L. Battini & A.-I. Langlois : Introduction

9h30-10h15       A. Garcia-Ventura : « Bodies and Gender in Ancient Near Eastern Studies: a Historiographical Approach »

10h15-11h00      R. Dolce : « Real Human Bodies, Images of Bodies and the Time Factor in the Early Cultures of Mesopotamia and Syria »

11h30-12h15      N. May : « Natural or Supernatural? The Giant as a Concept of Ideal Body. »

14h30-15h15      B. Muller : « Impact de la matière sur la forme : nature du support et mode de représentation des attitudes corporelles»

15h15-16h00      V. Chalendar : « Vision et divisions du corps par les savants mésopotamiens »

16h10-16h55      S. Di Paolo : « Investigating Attitudes Towards Age in the Pictorial Representations of the Ancient Near East: an Elusive Concept for Analysis? »

16h55-17h40      A.-I. Langlois : « Le corps dans les lettres paléo-babyloniennes »


Vendredi 10 novembre

9h00-9h45         A. Pruss : « Body Proportions of Second Millennium BC Figurines »

9h45-10h30       T. Ornan : « ‘Don’t you Have a Beard on Your Chin?’ (ARM I,108): Beards as Secondary Male Markers in 2nd millennium BC Mesopotamia. »

11h00-11h45      A. Attia : « L’œil par l’image, anatomie, pathologie »

11h45-12h30      V. Van der Stede : « As-tu vu celui dont le corps est abandonné dans le désert ? Je l’ai vu, son eṭemmu ne se repose pas aux Enfers… Le devenir du corps par-delà la mort en Mésopotamie »

14h30-15h15       L. Verderame : « Ecrit dans le corps : prédestination, physionomie, et mutilation dans la Mésopotamie ancienne »

15h15-16h00      A. Mouton : « Body Alterations in Hittite Anatolia »

16h30-17h15      L. Battini : « De la norme à l’ab-normale  :histoires mésopotamiennes de corps »

17h15-18h00      N. Ziegler : « La musicienne en Mésopotamie : le corps de l’artiste »

18h00-19h00      Discussion et clôture du colloque avec intervention de Dominique Charpin,
Professeur au Collège de France et Co-Directeur de l’UMR 7192 PROCLAC

Zu Gast am Deutschen Haus, NY: Teilprojekt A03/L. Lehmhaus und der SFB 980

Das von Markham J. Geller geleitete Teilprojekt des SFB 980 ‘Episteme in Bewegung’ ist mit von der Partie im Deutschen Haus, New York: Unter dem Titel “Knowledge in Motion” präsentiert sich der Sonderforschungsbereich der Freien Universität Berlin in einem zweitägigen Workshop am 16. und 17. Oktober 2017.

Das genaue Programm ist online auf der SFB-Seite abrufbar:


Lennart Lehmhaus forscht bis Ende 2017 als Rothfeld Fellow am Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania.

Psychopharmaka in Ancient Greek Medicine and Thought – workshop Sept 29, 2017

On Fri, September 29, 2017, a workshop on Psychopharmaka is being held at Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

The event is convened by R. Wittwer,
BBAW and TOPOI Excellence Cluster, Research Area D2 Mapping Body and Soul.

Participation is open to the public, for administrative reasons, partitipants are requested to register beforehand with

Speakers are:
Sean Coughlin (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin),  Alessia Guardasole (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris), Matteo Martelli (Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften), Sébastien Moureau (The Warburg Institute, UK), Lucia Raggetti (Freie Universität Berlin), Robert Sieben-Tait (Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin), (Chiara Thumiger (Warwick University, UK)

Please go to the TOPOI website for a full conference programme.

Ancient physicians were well aware that material substances could and did cause observable effects in the functioning of human psyche and they followed different paths in observing and conceptualizing the relationships between ‘soul’ (psychē) and pharmaka, with its broad spectrum of meanings: ‘medicines,’ ‘drugs’ and ‘poisons’. On the one hand, they described and classified the effects that active substances could bring about in the ‘psychic’ sphere of human beings, including their impact on emotions, perceptions, and ‘mental’ activities. In some cases, they were even aware that such an impact could depend on the beliefs of the patients, rather than on the real properties of drugs. On the other hand, the concepts of ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ were often used to explain and conceptualize the properties of substances in medicine and in contiguous areas of expertise, such as alchemy. These interrelated and complex aspects of the soul-pharmakon relationship will represent the main focus of the workshop, which will explore this topic within a broad chronological time frame, from Homer up to the Islamic medicine.