Ancient Babylonian Medicine: Theory and Practice

Ancient Babylonian Medicine: Theory and Practice

Hardback Ancient Cultures

By (author) Markham J. Geller

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  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Format: Hardback | 234 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 230mm x 22mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 17 May 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Chicester
  • ISBN 10: 1405126523
  • ISBN 13: 9781405126526
  • Illustrations note: b/w illus
  • Sales rank: 769,599

Product description

Utilizing a great variety of previously unknown cuneiform tablets, Ancient Babylonian Medicine: Theory and Practice examinesthe way medicine was practiced by various Babylonian professionalsof the 2nd and 1st millennium B.C. * Represents the first overview of Babylonian medicine utilizingcuneiform sources, including archives of court letters, medicalrecipes, and commentaries written by ancient scholars * Attempts to reconcile the ways in which medicine and magic wererelated * Assigns authorship to various types of medical literature thatwere previously considered anonymous * Rejects the approach of other scholars that have attempted toapply modern diagnostic methods to ancient illnesses

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Author information

Markham J. Geller is Professor of Semitic Languages at University College London and Guest Professor at the Freie Universitat Berlin. He is the author of Evil Demons: Canonical Utukk Lemn tu Incantations (2007) and co-editor of Disease in Babylonia (2007) and Imagining Creation (2008).

Review quote

"Markham J. Geller brings a welcome, dual expertise now rather rare in medical history (he is an MD as well as a Rabbi and Professor of Semitic Languages), and some of his previous studies of Talmudic texts led him to the discovery of medical loan-words that turned out to be embedded Akka-dian dating from the period known as the "Babylonian Captivity". (Times Literary Supplement, 21 January 2011) "He appends a commentary probably composed by the Uruk scholar Iqisa, who flourished in the latter part of the fourth century BC; the transcription, and possibly the translation, is from a 1924 edition by Campbell Thompson." (SciTech Book News, December 2010)

Back cover copy

Even in the twenty-first century, medicine remains something of a mystery. In a few significant areas we are hardly better informed than ancient and medieval practitioners. Yet when the topic of ancient medicine is broached, too often the tendency is to dismiss it solely as the product of ignorance and superstition. By delving into the way medicine was actually practiced by various Babylonian professionals of the 2nd and 1st millennium B.C., "Ancient Babylonian Medicine: Theory and Practice" shatters some of our preconceived notions about ancient medicine. Through the use of a great variety of extant cuneiform tablets -- many previously unknown -- noted Assyriologist and ancient language expert Markham J. Geller reveals the rich legacy of Babylonian healing techniques. Challenging the traditional view of ancient medicine that rigidly distinguishes between science and superstition, Geller shows how ancient healing methods and strategies embodied a vastly more complex relationship between medicine and magic. He theorizes that when viewed from the perspective of a patient concerned only with the efficacy of treatment, medicine and magic were simply dual approaches to healing. Geller also examines basic therapeutic concepts utilizing medical commentaries ascribed to physician-scribes among Babylonian scholars -- a source not previously researched. Original and provocative, "Ancient Babylonian Medicine: Theory and Practice" offers startling new insights into the dark and distant roots of modern medicine.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations. List of Abbreviations. Acknowledgments. Introduction to Babylonian Medicine and Magic. 1 Medicine as Science. 2 Who Did What to Whom? 3 The Politics of Medicine. 4 Medicine as Literature. 5 Medicine and Philosophy. 6 Medical Training: MD or PhD? 7 Uruk Medical Commentaries. 8 Medicine and Magic as Independent Approaches toHealing. Appendix: An Edition of a Medical Commentary. Notes. References. Subject Index. Selective Index of Akkadian and Greek Words. Index of Akkadian Personal Names.