Introduction to Mesopotamian medicine (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Simonetta Ponchia
Simonetta Ponchia
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
NN - -
Language of instruction
Sem. 2A dal Feb 18, 2019 al Mar 30, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The knowledge of the Assyro-Babylonian medical texts allows to deepen the knowledge of the near eastern world and is part of the study of ancient history envisaged in the didactic paths of the MA courses in Literature and Cultural Heritage. The course aims to provide the student with the basic tools for the study of Mesopotamian medicine, the learning of the main related sources, and both the basic and specific bibliography, the general techniques for the analysis of diagnostic and therapeutic cuneiform tablets, and the knowledge of some of the most important and most recent methodological guidelines, in order to offer him the opportunity to deepen the study of one of the most complicated and fascinating sectors in the history of the ancient Near East.


The course offers a general introduction to the Mesopotamian medical texts dating back to a period between the end of the second and the half of the first millennium BC. The course is divided into two parts: the first one is dedicated to the definition of medicine and magic according to the Mesopotamian thought, and to the presentation of the texts, while the second part is divided into a series of lessons including the analysis of practical examples and some case studies, related to both diagnostic and prognostic and to therapeutic texts. Indications concerning the reference texts will be provided during the course; materials and slides uploaded to the e-learning platform can be used for synthesis and in-depth consideration of the topics.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Heeßel Babylonisch-Assyrische Diagnostik, (AOAT 43) Ugarit Verlag 2000
Abusch/Schwemer Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-Witchcraft Rituals, (AMD 8/1 and 8/2) Brill 2011
Janowski/Schwemer (eds.) Texte zur Heilkunde, (TUAT NF 5) Gütersloher Verlagshaus 2010
Salin ““When disease ‘touches’, ‘hits’ or ‘seizes’ in Assyro-Babylonian medicine”, KASKAL 12, 319-336 2015

Assessment methods and criteria

Final oral assessment. Purposes of the assessment are to verify the acquired knowledge and language skills.
The assessment will consist of questions on the topics treated during the course and synthesis provided in slides. The evaluation consists in a final approval (without mark).