The Healing Goddess Gula

Towards an Understanding of Ancient Babylonian Medicine


Providing a comprehensive examination of the traits and areas of authority Ancient Babylonians attributed to their healing goddess, this book draws on a wide range of Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform sources, including god lists, literary compositions, lexical lists, prognostic texts, incantations, and prescriptions. Analysing the use of selected metaphors associated with the goddess, a new perspective is offered on the explanation for disease as well as the motivation for particular treatments. Special chapters deal with the cuneiform handbook on prognosis and diagnosis of diseases, medical incantations appealing to the healing goddess, and the medicinal plants attributed to her. For the first time a body of evidence for the use of simple drugs is brought together, elaborating on specific plant profiles. The result is a volume that challenges many long-held assumptions concerning the specialized cuneiform medical literature and takes a fresh look on the nature of Ancient Babylonian healing.

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Barbara Böck, Researcher at the CSIC, Madrid, is currently writing the Handbook of Ancient Mesopotamian Medicine to appear in Brill. She has published extensively on Babylonian divination, magic, and medicine, including the edition and study of the Babylonian treatise on physiognomy and the cuneiform collection of medical incantations, Embrocation.
Chapter One Introduction
Chapter Two The Healing Goddess Gula: A Portrait
Chapter Three Gula’s ‘Hand’ in the Handbook of Diagnosis and Prognosis, Sakikkû
Chapter Four Gula and Healing Spells
Chapter Five Gula’s Healing Plants
Chapter Six The Cultural Setting of Ancient Babylonian Medicine
Texts Cited
All those interested in the transmission and transformation of religious ideas in ancient Mesopotamia, and anyone concerned with the study of ancient medicine and ancient magic.
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