If a city is situated on seven heights…

Conference, Science, Talk, Roma
Conference, Science, Talk

Programme of the international conference at the Istituto Svizzero, Rome (IS) and at the Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueología, Rome (EEHAR)

“If a city is situated on seven heights…”
Current insights into Ancient Near Eastern divination

Divination always played an important role in Ancient Near Eastern politics, daily life, and even economy. Far beyond being a mere mean to foretell the future, divination sets the standards for the interpretation of the known world. The interpretation of the omina, including every sort of natural or man-provoked phenomena, constitutes one of the main channels of communication between man and the supernatural forces which shaped the world, i.e. the gods. Hepatoscopy (liver inspection of offered animals), libanomancy (observation of incense smoke), lecanomancy (observation of the ripples of the water), physiognomics (interpretation of the outer appearance of a human body), celestial omina, and dream interpretation are only a few of the multifarious branches of divination thoroughly explored in the Ancient Near Eastern traditions.
Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in ancient divinatory practices, which led to the development of several research projects in universities and research centers in Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, and other countries. The aim of this international conference is to bring together a representative group of specialists in the field of Ancient Near Eastern divination and to start a constructive multi-disciplinary dialogue. The conference covers a large geographic area including Mesopotamia, Syria, South Arabia, Anatolia and Egypt from the third millennium BCE to the Late Antiquity.


A project organised by Armando Bramanti, CSIC Madrid / IS; Ignacio Márquez Rowe CSIC Madrid, in collaboration with:
ISR (Istituto Svizzero di Roma)
EEHAR (Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueología en Roma)
AMA l’ISR (Associazione Membri e Amici dell’Istituto Svizzero di Roma)
CEPO (Centro de Estudios del Próximo Oriente Antiguo)
Sapienza – Università di Roma

Programme and speakers

Alessio Agostini, Sapienza – Università di Roma
Oracular Consultations in Pre-Islamic South Arabia: Terminology, Practices and Settings

Nadia Aït Saïd-Ghanem, SOAS London
A Marriage and a Curse in Two New Oil Omen Fragments in the British Museum, BM 87655 and BM 87642

Maria Giovanna Biga, Sapienza – Università di Roma
Divination in Ebla and Third Millennium Syria

Barbara Böck, CSIC Madrid
On the Relationship between Babylonian Physiognomic and Medical Omens

Paola Buzi, Sapienza – Università di Roma
Divination in Egypt from Sobek to Saint Colluthus. Technical aspects of the oracular practice

Franco D’Agostino, Sapienza – Università di Roma & Armando Bramanti, CSIC Madrid / IS
Divination in Third Millennium BCE (?)

Nicla de Zorzi, Universität Wien
Written on the Lungs: On the Reconstruction and Interpretation of Šumma ḫašû

Ann Guinan, University of Pennsylvania (via web)
The Human Behavioral Omens Of Shumma Alu: Paradox or Paradigm-Shift?

Enrique Jiménez, LMU München
Hidden Perfection. The Sign and the Prediction in Babylonian Commentaries

Rachel Lerculeur, Université de Genève
Sleep Omens in Šumma ālu

Ignacio Márquez Rowe, CSIC Madrid
Anatomical Clay Representations of the Sheep Intestines for Divination in Ancient Mesopotamia: A Typology

Patrick Maxime Michel, Université de Lausanne / AMA ISR
Divination in Hittite Anatolia

Francesca Minen, Università di Udine
Signs of Sickness on Earth. Reading Šumma ālu from a Medico-Historical Perspective

Anne-Caroline Rendu Loisel, Université de Strasbourg
Do the Senses Make Sense? Sensory Phenomena and Mesopotamian Divination

Lorenzo Verderame, Sapienza – Università di Roma 
Animal Agency in Ancient Mesopotamian Divination


The final programme and more information will be available in the upcoming weeks. 

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