2-Day Conference: Infecting the Ancient Mesopotamian Cosmos

The conference Infecting the Ancient Mesopotamian Cosmos intends to illuminate the effects of transmissible diseases in ancient Iraq via the study of cuneiform texts. More specifically, the conference will address how people in ancient Mesopotamia envisioned and described disease within the body and how it was believed to spread throughout society. These aspects of ancient medicine have gained renewed interest during the current pandemic, and analyses of the relevant terminology, concepts, as well as primary sources are long overdue. One part of the meeting will focus on which illnesses were considered transmissible as well as how such diseases afflicted parts of a patient’s body and disrupted its processes. In a larger perspective, the conference will assess the ways in which inauspicious portents could accumulate and bring about sickness, and how ill omens as well as diseases were believed to spread between animals, humans, and households (e.g., as epidemics). Finally, it is of interest how communicable diseases were situated in a larger cosmic setting, and in which ways mythological or literary narratives provided etiologies for understanding what it meant to be ill and how contagion functioned.

The gathering will be held on the 29th-30th of April 2022 in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium at Wolfson College, Oxford.

The gathering is generously funded by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, the Carlsberg Foundation, and the General Fund for Assyriology at Wolfson College, Oxford.

A number of seats are available for registered participants listening in, for further information please contact Troels Pank Arbøll at: troels.arboll@orinst.ox.ac.uk

For programme and more information please see the website:

Sorry, there are currently no talks scheduled in this series.

This series features in the following public collections: