Mesopotamian Divinatory Texts from Syria and Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age
Prof. Dr. Nils P. Heeßel
Even as early as the late 3rd millennium BCE, there is evidence of divinatory practices in ancient Mesopotamia. A new text genre listing the meanings of omens appears during the first half of the 2. millennium BCE and attests to the continuous development of divinatory practices in Mesopotamia into the Hellenistic period. Furthermore, textual sources from neighbouring regions in the Near East dating to the Late Bronze Age (second half of the 2nd millennium BCE) demonstrate that this knowledge, and possibly the practices, were imported from Mesopotamia and existed parallel to local divinatory traditions, as hundreds of fragments have been found in Hattusa and Emar, and smaller numbers have been discovered in Alalah, Ugarit, Susa and Kabnak.
While the majority of the aforementioned fragments have already been edited, a comprehensive study treating this corpus of divinatory texts as a whole is needed. The aim of the present thesis is to study this corpus with a focus on the intellectual history of the Late Bronze Age. Of particular relevance are organisatory characteristics, hermeneutical strategies and areas of interest as documented in omen compendia, to be studied through a comparative perspective encompassing Hattusa and Emar, as well as Mesopotamian sites such as Assur, Babylon, and Nippur.
In addition to intellectual history, a major focus of this study is to document the process and effects of transmission and reception in the case of Hattusa and Emar, as well as to investigate whether (and how) the omen compendia were further developed within the local scribal communities. In the case of Hattusa, where translations of Akkadian omen compendia into Hittite are attested, a study of translation techniques is to be undertaken.