Further Studies on Mesopotamian Witchcraft Beliefs and Literature


Among the most important sources for understanding the cultures, religions, and systems of thought of ancient Mesopotamia is the large corpus of magical and medical texts directed against witchcraft. The most important of these texts is the Akkadian series Maqlû (“Burning”).

This volume offers a collection of studies on Mesopotamian witchcraft and Maqlû written subsequent to the appearance of the author’s 2002 collection of studies on witchcraft (Brill, 2002). Many of the studies reprinted here take a diachronic approach to individual incantations and rituals and attempt to solve textual difficulties using literary-critical and/or text-critical approaches.

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Tzvi Abusch, Ph.D. (1972), Harvard University, is Cohen Professor Emeritus of Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Religion at Brandeis University. His primary fields of publication are Mesopotamian religion and literature. Some of his early studies on Babylonian witchcraft are found in Mesopotamian Witchcraft (Brill, 2002). He is co-author of Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-witchcraft Rituals (Brill, 2011-2020).

Studies of the Text of Maqlû

1 Witches and Demons in Ancient Mesopotamia

2 Divine Judges on Earth and in Heaven

3 Maqlû Tablet II: Its Literary Frame and Formation

4 The Revision of Babylonian Anti-Witchcraft Incantations: the Critical Analysis of Incantations in the Ceremonial Series Maqlû

5 Maqlû III 1–30: Internal Analysis and Manuscript Evidence for the Revision of an Incantation

6 Mother and Child or Sexual Mates?

7 Blessing and Praise in Ancient Mesopotamian Incantations

8 Notes on the History of Composition of Two Incantations

9 A Neo-Babylonian Recension of Maqlû: Some Observations on the Redaction of Maqlû Tablet VII and on the Development of Two of Its Incantations

10 Vetitive and Prohibitive: an Observation

11 Alternative Models for the Development of Some Incantations

Studies of Mesopotamian Witchcraft

12 Witchcraft Literature in Mesopotamia

13 Some Reflections on Mesopotamian Witchcraft

14 The Witch’s Messages: Witchcraft, Omens, and Voodoo-Death in Ancient Mesopotamia

15 Illnesses and Other Crises: Mesopotamia

16 Lists of Therapeutic Plants: an Observation

17 Dismissal by Authorities: šuškunu and Related Matters
This book should be of immediate interest to students of ancient magic, witchcraft, and literature, and especially to scholars in the fields of Assyriology, Biblical Studies, and Anthropology.