Babylonian Medicine

Freie Universität Berlin

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:

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.

Internationale medizinhistorische Tagung „Sammlung und Fragmentierung: Medizinische Kompilationen des Morgen- und Abendlands und ihre Quellen“

Internationale medizinhistorische Tagung „Sammlung und Fragmentierung:
Medizinische Kompilationen des Morgen- und Abendlands und ihre Quellen“

Berlin, Saturday 30.09.17 – Monday 02.10.17

registration: 8.40 hrs on Sat., Sept 30, 2017

venue Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

For full conference programme see end of this post.



Einführung: Was sind Kompilationen? Zu Wesen und Geschichte einer literarischen
„Gattung“, PD Dr. Mathias Witt, Berlin

Corpus Hippocraticum
Sitzungsleitung: Prof. Klaus-Dietrich Fischer, Universität Mainz

“Un libro famosissimo e ammiratissimo” (Suda ι 564, s.v. Ἱπποκράτης).
Dai corpora al Corpus ippocratico., Prof. Franco Giorgianni, Università degli Studi di Palermo
Sur les éditions les plus anciennes du Serment d’Hippocrate: un nouveau témoignage, le Par. Suppl. gr. 608, Prof. Jacques Jouanna, Universität Paris IV-Sorbonne
présenté par Dr. Alessia Guardasole, Université Paris IV-Sorbonne

Byzantinische Kompilationen: Abhängigkeiten und Quellen
Sitzungsleitung: Prof. Klaus-Dietrich Fischer, Universität Mainz
Le Collectiones medicae di Oribasio (libri I-V): lingua e stile, fonti, contenuto, Caterina Manco, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier
Oribasio lettore dei commenti chirurgici di Galeno: il caso del commento ad Officina medici, Dr. Tommaso Raiola, Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”

Sitzungsleitung: Prof. Philipp van der Eijk, HU Berlin
Pneumatist Lore in Oribasius‘ Collectiones medicae, Dr. Sean Coughlin, HU Berlin
Analisi filologica e testuale delle Eclogae attribuite ad Oribasio, Dr. Serena Buzzi, Università degli Studi di Torino
I Libri Medicinales di Aezio Amideno, Dr. Irene Calà, HU Berlin

Sitzungsleitung: Prof. Elsa Garcia Novo, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

What did Aetius have that Oribasius and Paul lacked? Intertextuality in Late Antique Medical Compilations. Ricarda Gäbel, HU Berlin
What to do if the Vulva is Itching: Aetius of Amida’s Nymphomaniac Woman (according to Soranus), Elisa Groff, University of Exeter
Considérations autour du manuscrit perdu du Tétrabiblon d’Aétius d’Amida consulté par le patriarche Photios au IXe siècle de notre ère (Bibliotheca c. 221), Tamara Martí Casado, Universität Paris IV-Sorbonne

Sitzungsleitung: Prof. Armelle Debru, Université Paris V René Descartes
Paul of Aegina: Self-Awareness in Selection and Presentation of Material, Prof. Elisabeth Craik, University of St. Andrews, UK
An der Quelle medizinischer Kompilationen: Rezeptsammlungen auf Papyrus, Anna Monte, HU Berlin
A Newly Found Syriac Medical Manual (Kunnāšā) and its Sources, Dr. Grigory Kessel, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien

III. Arabische Kompilationen
Sitzungsleitung: Prof. Gotthard Strohmaier, FU Berlin

Autour des sources de Ḥunain ibn Isḥāq dans le Livre des aliments: méthode et technique de citation. Prof. Véronique Boudon-Millot, Université Paris IV-Sorbonne
Zur handschriftlichen Überlieferung des Kitāb al-Ḥāwī und seiner Funktion als Fragmentquelle: Bestandsaufnahme und Ausblicke, PD Dr. Mathias Witt, Berlin
Die arabische Überlieferung von Galens verlorener Synopsis methodi medendi. Zu den Handschriften Princeton (Garrett 1075) und Istanbul (Ahmet III. 2043) und den Zitaten in ar-Rāzīs Ḥāwī, Dr. Fabian Käs, Universität Köln

Reconstructing the Medieval Knowledge of the Brain: Al-Ḥāwī on Inner Senses and their Localization, Shahrzad Irannejad, PharmD, Universität Mainz
Remarques sur l’utilité du K. al-Ḥāwī de ar-Rāzī pour l’édition et l’interprétation du deuxième livre des Épidémies d’Hippocrate, Dr. Robert Alessi, Paris
Die Summaria Alexandrinorum zu De sectis – zum Fortleben einer griechischen Kompilation im Orient, Dr. Oliver Overwien, HU Berlin
Tres compilaciones medievales atribuidas a Oribasio (De dynamidiis, Practica y Excerpta ex libro decimo): transmisión y fuentes, Prof. María Teresa Santamaria Hernandez, Universitad Castilla la Mancha
Praesagitio omnino vera expertaque or how to compose a false Galen’s treatise?, Prof. Elsa Garcia Novo, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

IV. Evolution des Wissens in den Kompilationen
La thériaque à Constantinople et Alexandrie à l’époque byzantine (Aetius, Paul d’Égine et Théophane Chrysobalantes): entre tradition et innovation, Dr. Alessia Guardasole, Université Paris IV-Sorbonne

Sitzungsleitung: PD Dr. Mathias Witt, Berlin

Les compilations du De differentiis febrium de Galien attribuées à Palladios, Stéphane et Théophile. Recherches sur la tradition manuscrite de l’Anonyme sur les fièvres, Dr. Marie-Laure Monfort, Université Paris IV-Sorbonne

Antyllus and the Surgery of Aneurysms in Early Imperial Roman Time, Including the Application of his Method in Early Byzantine and Arabic Medicin, Prof. Peter Grunert, Klinik für Neurochirurgie Universität des Saarlandes

V. Spätbyzanz, Mittelalter
Sitzungsleitung: Prof. Elsa Garcia Novo, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Galens Περὶ χρείας μορίων als Quelle der byzantinischen christlichen Anthropologie – Zur Editionstechnik byzantinischer medizinischer Kompilationen, PD Dr. Isabel Grimm-Stadelmann, LMU München
The Influence of Rhazes‘ Writings on Two Arabic Medical Encyclopedias from the 13th and 15th Centuries, Dr. Ayman Atat, Technische Universität Braunschweig
Greek Medical Collections in Post-Byzantine Practical-Use Compilations: the case of the Iatrosophia, Danilo Valentino, CSMC – Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg


Medizinische Kompilationen HU Berlin_conference_programme

Rome Workshop on Galen’s ‘Simple Drugs’

Rethinking Ancient Pharmacology: the transmission and interpretation of Galen’s treatise On simple drugs.

Date: September 22, 2017
Venue: The British School, Rome

The British School in Rome hosts an international workshop about the textual transmission and the interpretation of Galen’s treatise On Simple Drugs. The event is organised by Caroline Petit, Matteo Martelli and Lucia Raggetti (who is part of the Wissengeschichte-team working under Markham J. Geller/PI of BabMed at Freie Universität Berlin).

The workshop is funded by a BA-Leverhulme Small Grant as part of the project Rethinking Ancient Pharmacology: Galen’s Treatise On simple drugs (2017-2019).

Contributions by: Naima Afif, Siam Bhayro, Irene Calà, Stefania Fortuna, Robert Hawley, Matteo Martelli, Vivian Nutton, Lucia Raggetti, Peter N. Singer, Iolanda Ventura, John M. Wilkins.

For a full programme, please see here.

Video Lecture: Human Senses in Akkadian Texts

A Lecture and Video-Conference by Anne-Caroline Rendu Loisel, Strasburg University

Thursday, September 28, 2017 4 p.m.-6 p.m. (Paris time) at the Ivry sur Seine CNRS building, 27 rue Paul Bert, Porte de Choisy/Porte d’Ivry subway station, room C in the basement or by distance through video-conference.


Through the prism of bodily perception, a society gives sense to, translates, and interprets its surrounding environment. For more than twenty years, Anthropology of the senses has incited scholars to consider a society through the human body and its sensory dynamic: perception and related concepts may vary from one culture to another, for it is deeply rooted in each system of customs, values and representations. For instance, our western and contemporary societies have been deeply marked by Aristotle’s theoretical model, which is based on five major senses: to see, to hear, to touch, to smell, and to taste.

However, this pentasensory model is not equally relevant for the societies of the Ancient Near East, especially according to the Akkadian texts. How many senses can be identified? Are there aesthetic values associated to specific sensory experiences? What consequences may have a sensory loss for the individual and his relationships to his social and natural environment? Trying to answer these questions, I will investigate Akkadian texts of various nature, focusing on ritual, divination and literary contexts.


This presentation in English constitutes the eleventh monthly session of the interdisciplinary seminar “The Individual and his Body in the Ancient Mediterranean Basin” organized by Alice Mouton and supported by the Labex RESMED and the UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée.

All persons interested in attending the session (either in Ivry sur Seine or through video-conference) are welcome for free but should register by e-mail beforehand.