Babylonian Medicine

Freie Universität Berlin

Troels Arbøll, Copenhagen, on how to become a Mesopotamian doctor: the case study of Kisir-Ashur.

In his PhD thesis, Troels Arbøll, Univ. of Copenhagen, retraces the making of a doctor in Mesopotamia. He analyses the notes and writings of a healer called Kisir-Ashur at the end of the seventh century BCE.
More about his findings is given in an article at ScienceNordic, a Scandinavian online magazine on scientific research.


A brief quote taken from the contibution:

“It’s a snapshot of history that is difficult to generalise and it is possible that Kisir-Ashur worked with the material in a slightly different way than other practising healers. Kisir-Ashur copied and recorded mostly pre-existing treatments and you can see that he catalogues knowledge and collects it with a specific goal,” says Arbøll.

For [Nils P.] Heeßel [Univ. Marburg], this is the most exciting part of the thesis.

“It’s a great piece of work and for me this micro-history of the ancient Near East is the most interesting aspect of the thesis. It’s never been done before and I’m glad to see this concept used on our limited material in the region,” he writes.


AOAT 447 by András Bácskay – Therapeutic Prescriptions against Fever in Ancient Mesopotamia

Therapeutic Prescriptions against Fever in Ancient Mesopotamia – Volume 447 of AOAT is available now. András Bácskay of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest offers transliterations, translations and philological notes for fever-related Assyrian and Babylonian therapeutic texts.

Please see the Ugarit-Verlag webpage for further information.





Call for Papers: Rome Conference on Religions and Medicine

Religions and Medicine: From Antiquity to Contemporary Age
June 5-9, 2018
Velletri (Rome)


Call for Papers
In the contemporary Western world, medicine constitutes a specific branch of knowledge, with its own characteristics and methods of cure and research, and it’s tendentially autonomous, not linked with religious or folklore beliefs, even though there are still some contacts, reciprocal influences and conflicts. In the past, however, these spheres were more reciprocally interconnected than it appears to us nowadays. The conference aims to investigate this interconnection in a multi-disciplinary perspective, as regards both medical procedures and the definition of human body.

In particular, the speakers may develop in their papers the following points:

  1. The formation of the concept of “medical science” as a specific and autonomous field compared to traditional and religious knowledge.
  2. The dialectics between medical practice and religious beliefs in relation to: a) the conception of human body;  b) the definition of “illness”;  c) healing activities;  d) the definition of the characteristics of a “healer”;  e) the definition of the characteristics of a “healing site”.  The history of studies on the matter.

The conference is articulated into five research areas:

  1. Egypt and Ancient Near East (coordinator: Maria Erica Couto-Ferreira – University of Heidelberg)
  1. Classical Antiquity (coordinator: Claudia Santi – Università della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”)
  1. Middle Ages (coordinator: Lidia Capo – Sapienza Università di Roma)
  2. Modern Era (coordinator: Marina Caffiero – Sapienza Università di Roma)
  3. Contemporary Era (coordinator: Emanuela Claudia Del Re – National coordinator of the Sociology of Religion Section of the Italian Sociology Association)

Administration: Igor Baglioni (Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni”)

The scholars who would like to contribute may send a one-page abstract (max 2.000 characters) to Igor Baglioni ( by April 1, 2018.

Attached to the abstract should be: the title of the paper; the chosen area; a short biography of the authors; email address and phone number.

Papers may be written and presented in English, French, Italian and Spanish.

The acceptance of papers will be communicated (by email) only to the selected contributors by 2018, April 10.

Please send the complete paper by email not later than May 25. The delivery of the paper is required to participate in the conference.

There is no attendance fee. The participants who don’t live in Rome or surroundings will be accommodated in hotels and bed-and-breakfasts which have an agreement with the Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni” to offer discounted prices. Papers may be published on Religio. Collana di Studi del Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni” (Edizioni Quasar), and in specialized journals. All the papers will be peer-reviewed. The conference will be associated with the cultural event “Vento d’Estate ai Castelli Romani” organized by Consorzio SBCR – Sistema Biblioteche dei Castelli Romani and by Fondazione Cultura Castelli Romani. The conference participants will be invited each evening by a different town in the Castelli Romani area and will be offered the opportunity to visit the town, taste local food, see shows, and participate for free in guided tours to local museums and monuments. The excursion programme will be presented at the same time as the conference programme.


For information:

Download call for papers:

Helsinki Workshop ‘Ancient Digital Humanities’, March 6, 2018

In recent years, a growing number of scholars of ancient history have started to explore the possibilities offered by digital humanities. The workshop “Ancient Digital Humanities” aims to accelerate these developments and enter into the conversation already in progress in the larger field of history. The session brings together leading scholars who apply computational methods to the study of ancient history, culture, and literature.


Ancient Digital Humanities Workshop (Helsinki, 6 March 2018)
Venue: University of Helsinki, Porthania building (Yliopistonkatu 3, Helsinki)

convened by: Tero Alstola, University of Helsinki

Melanie Groß, Leiden University: An Open Access Database: the “Prosopography of Babylonia”
Tuukka Kauhanen, University of Helsinki: Editing the Septuagint with Digital Tools
Paulina Pikulska, University of Warsaw: The Dossier of Aquba’ – Local Businesswomen in the Neo-Babylonian Sippar
Johannes Bach, University of Helsinki: Narrativity, Structuralism and Digitalization
Anthony R. Meyer, University of Michigan: Digital Humanities and Discovery Learning: A Neatline Interactive Geospatial Exhibit of the Ancient World
Marja Vierros, University of Helsinki: Greek Documentary Papyri, Linguistics, and Digital Methods
Rodrigo Hernáiz, Philipps-Universität Marburg: Applications of Text Corpora for the Study of Ancient Languages: Akkadian Sociolinguistics
Tero Alstola, Heidi Jauhiainen, and Aleksi Sahala, University of Helsinki: Semantic Domains in Akkadian Texts


If you are interested in joining other programme units of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 2018 conference, please see the programme and register at

Call for Papers: 2018 meeting of EABS and SBL, Helsinki

For the 2018 meeting of EABS and SBL in Helsinki, Finland (July 30 – August 3) the convenors invite proposals for papers or for panel-sessions, preferably with a comparative perspective, on the theme “The ways of the amorites – magico-medical knowledge and practices among Jews and others in (Late) Antiquity”.

Please send any proposals and/or questions to the unit chairs BabMed-PI Markham J. Geller ( and BabMed-member Lennart Lehmhaus (

For further information, please see the SBL hompage.

Talk by J. Cale Johnson at the University of Bologna

“Archaic Texts and Early State Economies in Mesopotamia” is the title of a workshop at the Dipartimento Storia Culture Civiltà of the University of Bologna, where J. Cale Johnson, Deputy Head of BabMed, gives a talk about “Food, status and institutional mechanics in the Uruk IV-III texts” on February 15th, 2018.

Please see the department’s website for further information.

Le Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes n°30 with a contribution by BabMed-member Krisztián Simkó

The latest volume of JMC (Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes) was issued recently and we are proud to report that BabMed team member Krisztián Simkó and his colleague András Bácskay of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest have contributed to it with their edition of the fifth UGU tablet (BAM 494). p. 1-71

The second part of JMC n°30 consists of a contribution by Zsolt Simon (LMU München), investigating the assumed aphasia of Muršili II. p. 72-80

The editors of the Jounal des Médecines Cunéiformes, BabMed project advisors Annie Attia and Gilles Buisson, have made the earliest issues of JMC available online.

The web site is:

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: