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medicine, Mesopotamia  

John Z. Wee

Cuneiform medical manuscripts are found in large numbers, mostly from 1st-millennium bce sites throughout ancient Mesopotamia. Included in the therapeutic tradition are pharmacological glossaries, herbal recipes with plant, mineral, and animal ingredients, and healing incantations and rituals. A Diagnostic Handbook created at the end of the 2nd millennium bce maps out a blueprint for medical practice that sketches out how a healer progresses in his knowledge of the sickness—initially interpreting bodily signs in ways reminiscent of omen divination, and only later arriving at a settled diagnostic verdict and treatment of the kind depicted in the therapeutic tradition. Mesopotamian aetiologies focused on malevolent agents external to the body, encouraging concerns for contagion, prophylaxis, and sanitation, while omitting significant roles for dietetics and exercise aimed at rectifying internal imbalances. Operative surgery was limited, because of the inadequacy of available analgesics and antiseptics. Suppliants seeking a cure visited temples of the healing goddess Gula in the cities of Isin and Nippur, while, among the professions, the “magician” and the “physician” were most associated with medical practice. After the 5th century bce, Calendar Texts and other astrological genres linked various ingredients to each zodiacal name, indicating certain days when a particular ingredient would become medically efficacious.

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Arbela  

John MacGinnis and David Michelmore

The history of Arbela (cuneiform Urbilum/Urbel/Arbail, modern Erbil) is documented in archaeological and textual sources. From the point when it first entered history in the middle of the 3rd millennium, the city’s fortunes alternated between periods of independence and incorporation within the super-regional states of Mesopotamia, including the Ur III kingdom and, more briefly, the Upper Mesopotamian empire of Shamshi-Adad I. In the later 2nd millennium the city was incorporated within the Assyrian Empire, rising to become a regional capital of major importance. Following the fall of Assyria, the city was incorporated within the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Arsacid, and Sasanian empires. A period of independence as an emirate in the early mediaeval period was a golden age. This came to an end with the city’s submission to the Mongols, after which it came under the control of the Black Sheep and White Sheep Turcomans and the Safavid and Ottoman empires.Arbela—modern Erbil—is a city in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq with a documented history going back more than four thousand years. It is situated in the trans-Tigris region at the interface of the Zagros Mountains and the fertile plains of .