Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Bibliography of Mesopotamian Magic (BibMM)

Bibliography of Mesopotamian Magic (BibMM)
The purpose of the Bibliography of Mesopotamian Magic (BibMM) under the Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-witchcraft Rituals online is to provide the primary and secondary literature that deals with magic and witchcraft in ancient Mesopotamia (and, to a certain extent, in the Ancient Near East more generally). Thus the two themes of magic and witchcraft are our main interests, and we have divided the relevant publications into four different categories:

The bibliography is meant to be a practical tool and representative as such, but, by no means, we claim it to be exhaustive. Book reviews of the key sources are presented together with the books in the General interpretive studies and in the Editions of cuneiform texts; the more extensive review articles are part of Interpretive studies on aspects.
In a way, the activities of the exorcist (āšipu, also known as mašmaššu) occupy the central position in this bibliography. He regularly performed magical rituals and repelled the attacks of supernatural entities. But, it is good to bear in mind that he was also, e.g., busy with divination and medicine, and that other Mesopotamian scholars likewise carried out magical ceremonies. In addition to the exorcist, the lamentation priest (kalû), diviner (bārû) and scribe-astrologer-astronomer (ṭupšarru, ṭupšarru Enūma Anu Enlil) all played important roles in magical rituals. However, we do not stress or single out the activities of these other scholars in any specific way in this bibliography.
What we include in the BibMM: Firstly, by Mesopotamian we understand both Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) and Sumerian texts and their interpretations. Accordingly, we include most of the primary and secondary sources that deal with incantations, rituals, demons, ghosts and monsters. We have also selectively recorded literature on dreams and dream rituals – quite closely connected to anti-witchcraft rituals through psychological characteristics – also on curses, although curses are somewhat problematic as they also appear in tablets that have otherwise little to do with magic (on myths, see the following paragraph). As many anti-witchcraft rituals are essentially therapeutic texts, the bibliography naturally lists many works on Mesopotamian medicine, but we have done our best to keep magic and medicine apart from one another, as far as it is possible, and have not tried to compile a bibliography of Mesopotamian medicine (for such an attempt, see, e.g., L. Verderame, "A Bibliography of Ancient Mesopotamian Medicine," Le Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes 20 [2012] 1-42).
What we exclude from the BibMM: we do not attempt to list the massive literature on divination, i.e. of various types of omens, or on oracles and prophecies. Also the books and/or articles on Mesopotamian astrology/astronomy (for which see are only included in the bibliography if they explicitly deal with magic and witchcraft. Moreover, any theoretical books or articles on medieval and modern witchcraft are excluded. In general, Mesopotamian myths, having a considerable secondary literature, and other related literary tablets often treat magic and witchcraft, but as such these genres are outside the scope of this work, although we try to subsume into this bibliography explicit discussions on magic and witchcraft from myths. Hence some articles and monographs on shared themes, e.g. concerning the netherworld, are included in the bibliography.
Finally, it may be appropriate to conclude that the literature on various protective (apotropaic) means is naturally part and parcel of this bibliography. Amulets and other apotropaic devices were widely used in Mesopotamia to protect a person from various threats of the outside world which could manifest themselves in animals, demons, ghosts, monsters, warlocks and witches, but probably most importantly in fellow humans.
© Mikko Luukko 2014 (CC BY-NC-ND license)

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