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Materia Magica Et Medica Hethitica

Jan 01, 1996 — Dec 31, 1999

Hittite cuneiform tablets are attested for time between c. 1560 and 1150 BCE. Most of them come from the capital of the Hittite empire, Hattusa, located near the modern village of Boghazkale about 150 km East of the Turkish city of Ankara.

The research project “Materia Magica et Medica Hethitica” studies healing rituals as well as apotropaic and cathartic rituals that sometimes last for several days. These rituals detail the various steps of the medical treatment of patients.

The diseases described in these texts are most often caused by witchcraft, cursing, or moral misconduct, and can be described as psychogenic in their character. Treatment consists of a combination of magic and ritual, but drugs are also used to treat patients. Thus far, we know of about 400 different drugs used for treatment. These drugs can be herbal, but also mineral and animal products were used. It is the goal of this project to identify these drugs if possible.

In addition, there is a small corpus of medical texts which describe various diseases and recipes used for treatment.


V. Haas, Geschichte der hethitischen Religion, Leiden 1994.

V. Haas, Materia Magica Et Medica Hethitica, Berlin/New York, 2001