Maria Teresa Renzi-Sepe
Project manager, DFG project "The planets in Mesopotamian culture"
Associate member of ZODIAC: Assyriology; Mesopotamian celestial divination
I am an Assyriologist (PhD), working on philology and cultural-historical research. I focus on the conceptualization of celestial bodies in the astral science of Mesopotamia, mainly in celestial omens. So far, I have been working on the Pleiades in cuneiform culture and on the reconstruction of some parts of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil. I am also interested in the role of hermeneutical principles in the interpretation of omens, and the ancient knowledge production.
2023: project manager of the DFG project "The planets in Mesopotamian culture: their conceptualization in the Akkadian literature of the 1st millennium BC, with a focus on planetary omens (Enūma Anu Enlil tablets 55, 57 and 58)"
2022–2023: Research assistant for the “Supplement to the Akkadian Dictionaries”, Altorientalisches Institut, University of Leipzig
2022: PhD in Assyriology, Altorientalisches Institut, University of Leipzig
2019–2021: Research assistant/lecturer, focusing of divination in ancient Mesopotamia, Altorientalisches Institut, University of Leipzig
2017: MA in Archaeology, specialising in Assyriology, Sapienza University of Rome
2016: Annual seminar of Akkadian language and literature, Pontificio Istituto Biblico of Rome.
2015: BA in Archaeological sciences, specialising in Assyriology, Sapienza University of Rome.
DFG project "The planets in Mesopotamian culture: their conceptualization in the Akkadian literature of the 1st millennium BC, with a focus on planetary omens (Enūma Anu Enlil tablets 55, 57 and 58)" (2023-2025)
Maria Teresa Renzi-Sepe (project manager)
This project aims to understand the conceptualization of five planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn—in ancient Mesopotamia. It will accomplish this by analyzing a selection of Akkadian sources dated to the 1st millennium BC, specifically divinatory and astrological texts, which consistently demonstrate the significant interest of ancient Mesopotamia in what Assyriological scholarly literature has referred to as “astral science.” The planetary omens found in the Enūma Anu Enlil tablets 55, 57, and 58 will be of particular importance, and a new edition and analysis of these tablets will be produced as part of this project. By shedding light on the Mesopotamian conceptualization of the planets, this project will not only contribute to Assyriology but also to the broader history of science: the Mesopotamian understanding of the planets strongly influenced subsequent developments in the astral sciences of the Greco-Roman world and beyond—an area of study currently being explored by the “ZODIAC – Ancient Astral Science in Transformation” project.