BabMed – Fragments of Cuneiform Medicine in the Babylonian Talmud: Knowledge Transfer in Late Antiquity

BabMed represents the first comprehensive study of ancient Babylonian medical science since the decipherment of the cuneiform writing system. The BabMed project aims to make Babylonian medical texts and knowledge – the largest ancient collection of medical data before Hippocrates – available not only for the specialist, but for the wider public as well. This objective is essential since almost all these texts have so far only been published in cuneiform copies or remain completely unpublished; they are hardly accessible to an Assyriologist not familiar with them, and much less so for the wider scientific community.

The second central objective of BabMed is to study medicine in the Babylonian Talmud, in order to explore comparisons with later medical traditions from the same region in Aramaic, another language of ancient Mesopotamia. BabMed proposes that Babylonian medicine survived the death of cuneiform script and was preserved in part in the local Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud – a unique text which straddles the borders of Greco-Roman Palestine and Persian Babylonia and mirrors the scientific thinking of both worlds.

BabMed will also pursue parallels between Babylonian medicine on the one hand and Hippocratic and Galenic traditions, Discorides, the Syriac Book of Medicines, and late Egyptian medicine on the other, in order to clarify transfers of medical knowledge from Mesopotamia into later traditions. In doing so, BabMed will draw attention to the Mesopotamian contributions both in the Eastern and Western world thus challenging the eurocentric predominance within the history of medicine... Read more