front cover of Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine
Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine
Ancient Sources, Translations, and Modern Medical Analyses
Translated and with Commentary by JoAnn Scurlock and Burton R. Andersen
University of Illinois Press, 2005
To date, the pathbreaking medical contributions of the early Mesopotamians have been only vaguely understood. Due to the combined problems of an extinct language, gaps in the archeological record, the complexities of pharmacy and medicine, and the dispersion of ancient tablets throughout the museums of the world, it has been nearly impossible to get a clear and comprehensive view of what medicine was really like in ancient Mesopotamia.
The collaboration of medical expert Burton R. Andersen and cuneiformist JoAnn Scurlock makes it finally possible to survey this collected corpus and discern magic from experimental medicine in Ashur, Babylon, and Nineveh. Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine is the first systematic study of all the available texts, which together reveal a level of medical knowledge not matched again until the nineteenth century A.D. Over the course of a millennium, these nations were able to develop tests, prepare drugs, and encourage public sanitation. Their careful observation and recording of data resulted in a description of symptoms so precise as to enable modern identification of numerous diseases and afflictions.

front cover of Sourcebook for Ancient Mesopotamian Medicine
Sourcebook for Ancient Mesopotamian Medicine
JoAnn Scurlock
SBL Press, 2014
An introductory guide for scholars and students of the ancient Near East and the history of medicine

In this collection JoAnn Scurlock assembles and translates medical texts that provided instructions for ancient doctors and pharmacists. Scurlock unpacks the difficult, technical vocabulary that describes signs and symptoms as well as procedures and plants used in treatments. This fascinating material shines light on the development of medicine in the ancient Near East, yet these tablets were essentially inaccessible to anyone without an expertise in cuneiform. Scurlock’s work fills this gap by providing a key resource for teaching and research.


  • Accessible translations and transliterations for both specialists and non-specialists
  • Texts include a range of historical periods and regions
  • Therapeutic, pharmacological, and diagnostic texts

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