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Philosophy before the GreeksThe Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia$
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Marc Van De Mieroop

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157184

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157184.001.0001

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Omen Lists in Babylonian Culture

Omen Lists in Babylonian Culture

(p.87) Chapter 4 Omen Lists in Babylonian Culture
Philosophy before the Greeks

Marc Van De Mieroop

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Babylonian divinatory writings that guided the interpretation of the signs of the gods, with particular emphasis on the omen lists. These writings are overly abundant and highly systematized, and they fit perfectly within Babylonian philosophy in general. They can be interpreted as the height of Babylonian writings on epistemology, as they provide the most detailed evidence on the hermeneutical systems behind knowledge—albeit of something we do not consider knowable. The chapter first provides an overview of divination as practiced by ancient Babylonians before turning to the divination specialists in Assurbanipal’s court—scribes, haruspices, exorcists, physicians, and lamentation chanters—and their texts to show how highly educated they were and how literate the nature of their knowledge was.

Keywords:   divination, divinatory writings, gods, omen lists, epistemology, Assurbanipal, scribes, exorcists, physicians, lamentation chanters

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