Babylonian Medicine

Freie Universität Berlin

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.

Der Beitrag wurde am Tuesday, den 17. July 2018 um 10:28 Uhr von Till Sören Kappus veröffentlicht und wurde unter Allgemein abgelegt. Sie können die Kommentare zu diesem Eintrag durch den RSS 2.0 Feed verfolgen. Kommentare und Pings sind derzeit nicht erlaubt.

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