Medicine in Ancient Assur: outlining the career of a healer from the 7th century BCE

Monday 21 November, 16:00 (GMT)     Maison Française d'Oxford - online via Zoom

Please note this seminar is now online and you can watch it at the MFO – register in advance here


Series Convenors: Dr Alex Aylward, Professor Erica Charters, Professor Mark Harrison, Dr Catherine M Jackson, Dr Sloan Mahone


arboll vorderasiatisches museum zu berlin photo by olaf m tessmer left copy by troels p arboll right

Vorderasiatisches Museum zu Berlin, photo by Olaf M. Teßmer (left) & copy by Troels P. Arbøll (right)


Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Dr Troels Arboll (University of Oxford)

Medicine in Ancient Assur: outlining the career of a healer from the 7th century BCE

In the middle of the 7th century BCE, a young man by the name of Kisir-Ashur trained to become a healer in the city Assur, located in the northern part of modern-day Iraq. As a member of a reputable family of “exorcists” (Akkadian ashipu), Kisir-Ashur had access to significant scholarly knowledge based on written traditions stretching back into the second millennium BCE. At least 73 manuscripts from his family’s massive library contain Kisir-Ashur’s name in the colophons, a subscript at the end of the text providing various information about the copyist and the contents. Due to this amount of written material from Kisir-Ashur’s own time, he is one of the earliest healers in world history for whom we have significant details pertaining to his career. My study of Kisir-Ashur’s medical manuscripts was recently published in a monograph entitled Medicine in Ancient Assur (available with open access). In this presentation I will outline my analysis of Kisir-Ashur’s education and practice in order to discuss various aspects of medicine in ancient Mesopotamia.