Babylonian Medicine

Freie Universität Berlin

BabMed imagefilm and MedComm trailer online

BabMed Youtube Channel is open now, featuring the BabMed Imagefilm and a short video on the Medical Commentaries conference held in September 2017 at MPIWG Berlin.

ACHTUNG: Daten nach YouTube werden erst beim Abspielen des Videos übertragen.


ACHTUNG: Daten nach YouTube werden erst beim Abspielen des Videos übertragen.

Healthcare Fit for a King

The Middle East Department of the British Museum has just received a Wellcome Research Resources Award in Humanities and Social Science.

The Project, ‘Introducing Assyrian Medicine: Healthcare Fit for a King’, plans to make the corpus of medical texts from Nineveh in the British Museum accessible online.

The Wellcome award will be for up to £353,277.00 over 36 months, administered by the British Museum.

The proposed start date is 04 May 2020.  The PI of the project is Jonathan Taylor, with collaborators Irving Finkel from the British Museum and Mark Geller from University College London.

The two project curators working on the Project will be Strahil Panayotov and Krisztian Simko, both of whom previously worked in the ERC Project BabMed at the Freie Universität, Berlin.

First posted by Mark Geller <> via AGADE list April 24, 2020.


Markham J. Geller and Strahil V. Panayotov: The Nineveh Treatise. Die babylonisch-assyrische Medizin in Texten und Untersuchungen, Bd. 10.

Markham J. Geller and Strahil V. Panayotov

The Nineveh Treatise

Band 10 in Die babylonisch-assyrische Medizin in Texten und Untersuchungen
Funded by: European Research Council (ERC)

De Gruyter  |  2020 [Downloadable, likely by chapters, after June 15] ==========================



There is to date no comprehensive treatment of eye disease texts from ancient Mesopotamia, and no English translation of this material is available. This volume is the first complete edition and commentary on Mesopotamian medicine from Nineveh dealing with diseases of the eye.

This ancient work, languishing in British Museum archives since the 19th century, is preserved on several large cuneiform manuscripts from the royal library of Ashurbanipal, from the 7th century BC. The longest surviving ancient work on diseased eyes, the text predates by several centuries corresponding Hippocratic treatises. The Nineveh series represents a systematic array of eye symptoms and therapies, also showing commonalities with Egyptian and Greco-Roman medicine.

Since scholars of Near Eastern civilizations and ancient and general historians of medicine will need to be familiar with this material, the volume makes this aspect of Babylonian medicine fully accessible to both specialists and non-specialists, with all texts being fully translated into English.


M. J. Geller receives Doctor Honoris Causa of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohritski

Doctor Honoris Causa of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

At a ceremony in Aulata, Professor Mark Geller was honored with the
honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the Sofia University “St.
Kliment Ohridski “. The proposal for awarding the honorary title of
the oldest Bulgarian higher school is to the Faculty of Slavic
Philology and the Faculty of History.

Prof. Mark Geller is one of the recognized leading experts in the
field of Assyriology and ancient Hebrew Studies, whose contributions
to the fields of ancient linguistics, ancient medicine and ancient
magic and spells have established a standard in contemporary
research.” [….]

See pictures and a video recoring of the ceremony at this link.



contact: Slavka Karakusheva, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski
International Relations Office | 15, Tsar Osvoboditel, 1504, Sofia, Bulgaria
T: (+359) 2 9308422 | @:

Transliteration of BAM volumes 1-6 online (BabMed on CDLI)

BabMed PI Mark Geller and deputy head J. Cale Johnson would like to announce that transliterations of the first six volumes of Franz Köcher’s Babylonisch-Assyrische Medizin (BAM) are now available online at CDLI:


Please send any comments, corrections or suggestions to the following email address:


Preliminary versions of many of these transliterations as well as information on parallel passages are also available at the BabMed Project website:


Over the last five years or so, members of the BabMed Project as well as a number of other contributors and friends of the Project have provided transliterations, advice and corrections. We would like to express our sincere thanks for their efforts and contributions. They are listed below:


BabMed Staff

Ulrike Steinert

Strahil V. Panayotov

Eric Schmidtchen

Krisztián Simkó

Marius Hoppe

Marie Lorenz

John Schlesinger

Till Kappus

Agnes Kloocke



Annie Attia

Gilles Buisson

Sona Eypper

Marten Stol

Frans Wiggermann

Henry Stadhouders

Nils P. Heeßel

Martin Worthington

Franziska Desch

Marvin Schreiber

Tomoki Kitazumi

Johannes Bach

Kaira Boddy

Lidewij van de Peut

Visualizing the invisible…

Visualizing the invisible with the human body: Physiognomy and ekphrasis in the ancient world Edited by J. Cale Johnson and Alessandro Stavru

De Gruyter (Science, Technology, and Medicine in Ancient Cultures 10)
Hardcover ISBN 978-3-11-061826-6 RRP € [D] 99.95 / US$ 114.99 / GBP 91.00*
OPEN ACCESS (through funding from the BabMed Project)
Available online at:<>

Part I: Mesopotamia and India
1. Demarcating ekphrasis in Mesopotamia — J. Cale Johnson (pp. 11-40)
2. Mesopotamian and Indian physiognomy — Kenneth Zysk (pp. 41-60)
3. Umṣatu in omen and medical texts: An overview — Silvia Salin (pp. 61-80)
4. The series Šumma Ea liballiṭka revisited — Eric Schmidtchen (pp. 81-118)
5. Late Babylonian astrological physiognomy — Marvin Schreiber (pp. 119-140)

Part II: Classical Antiquity
6. Pathos, physiognomy and ekphrasis from Aristotle to the Second Sophistic — Alessandro Stavru (pp. 143-160)
7. Iconism and characterism of Polybius Rhetor, Trypho and Publius Rutilius Lupus Rhetor — Dorella Cianci (pp. 161-182)
8. Physiognomic roots in the rhetoric of Cicero and Quintilian: The application and transformation of traditional physiognomics — Laetitia Marcucci (pp. 183-202)
9. Good emperors, bad emperors: The function of physiognomic representation in Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum and common sense physiognomics — Gian Franco Chiai (pp. 203-226)
10. Physiognomy, ekphrasis, and the ‘ethnographicising’ register in the second sophistic — Antti Lampinen (pp. 227-270)
11. Representing the insane — Maria Gerolemou (pp. 271-282)

Part III: Semitic traditions
12. The question of ekphrasis in ancient Levantine narrative — Cory Crawford (pp. 285-320)
13. Physiognomy as a secret for the king. The chapter on physiognomy in the pseudo-Aristotelian “Secret of Secrets” — Regula Forster (pp.
14. Ekphrasis of a manuscript (MS London, British Library, Or. 12070).
Is the “London Physiognomy” a fake or a “semi-fake,” and is it a witness to the Secret of Secrets (Sirr al-Asrār) or to one of its sources? — Emily Cottrell (pp. 347-442)
15. A lost Greek text on physiognomy by Archelaos of Alexandria in Arabic translation transmitted by Ibn Abī Ṭālib al-Dimashqī: An edition and translation of the fragments with glossaries of the Greek, Syriac, and Arabic traditions — Johannes Thomann (pp. 443-484)

The BabMed ERC-project has run its course, but is far from over


The end? Far from it…


Over the past five years, the BabMed team and our project associates have worked hard to break the proverbial lock on Cuneiform and Talmudic medicine. It was the ERC 7th framework and the great support by Freie Universität Berlin, especially the Department of History and Cultural Studies, that enabled us to systematically study Ancient Babylonian Medicine for the first time since the BAM volumes of Franz Köcher and create a fresh awareness for these early scientific achievements within the academic community as well as the general public.

Our BabMed Annual Workshops and the BabMed Corpora Online edition have, in combination with the BabMed volumes with de Gruyter, Mohr Siebeck and Routledge publishers, prepared the grounds for future research on the History of Medicine not only in Assyriology and Talmudic Studies, but also in Classical and Ancient Studies and Egyptology.




With sincere thanks to everyone involved in the successful course of the BabMed project, and: there is still a great deal left to do.

The BabMed team






J. Cale Johnson at University of Birmingham

J. Cale Johnson left the Freie Universität Berlin in July 2017, but has kept his post as Deputy Head of the BabMed Project. We are happy to announce that he has now taken up a post as Senior Lecturer in Assyriology at the University of Birmingham’s department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (


Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes 31 (August 2018)

The Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes 31 is out and will be sent to subscribers.
You’ll find the contents of this new issue below.


Le Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes, 2018 – N° 31

Note des éditeurs
Les parties du corps dans la série šumma amêlu suâlam maruṣ
Danielle Sandra Cadelli

Words for Loss of Sensation and Paralysis in Assyro-Babylonian Medical Texts: Some Considerations
Silvia Salin

‘The Physician is the Judge!’- A Remarkable Divine Dialogue in the Incantation: ÉN ur-saĝ dasal-lú-ḫi igi-bé ḫé-pà saĝ-ḫul-ḫa-za ḫé-pà
Elyze Zomer

Mieux vaut être riche et bien-portant que pauvre et malade » : de BAM III-234 à Job
Annie Attia

The libbu our Second Brain? (part 1)
Annie Attia

PhD thesis – Vérène Chalendar on animals in Mesopotamian therapeutic practices

In September 2017, Vérène Chalendar of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) in Paris, successfully defended her PhD thesis “Quand l’animal soigne… Les utilisations thérapeutiques de l’animal dans le corpus médical cunéiforme assyro-babylonien”. Part of the jury were among others Gilles Buisson and Nils P. Heeßel, both well known from several BabMed events.


This thesis focuses on the use of animals in Mesopotamian therapeutic practices. It explores the animal used as ingredient for the preparation of medications, as well as the animal, which took part in the healing rituals. The first part reviews the cuneiform sources available for the reconstruction of medical practices and offers an exploration of Mesopotamian fauna through an overview of the taxonomy and the symbolic values attached to animals. It also investigates the practical issues resulting from the use of animals in pharmacopoeia (supply, conservation, methods of implementation etc.). The second part of the study consists in establishing a catalogue of animals encountered in the cuneiform medical texts. It lists and highlights the therapeutic uses of each animal and explores the reasons for their use in specific pathological contexts. The third part is devoted to the cultural and intellectual context in which these scientific Mesopotamian tablets were written. On this occasion, the concepts of “secret” and “encryption” of knowledge are considered. The main interest of this third chapter consists of a presentation and a new proposal for Uruanna = maštakal. This text has been the subject of several assumptions, which question the use of animal ingredients in the pharmacopoeia.