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Between magic and medicine—Apropos of an old babylonian therapeutic text against Kuràrum disease

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Chapter Summary

Human experience of encountering diseases is often described in bellicose terms. The interdependence of magic and medicine in the ancient world has been profusely emphasized by many scholars, and no further general comments are needed. This chapter elaborates some aspects of the interwoven alliance of magic lore and medical texts. It outlines a few delicate contours of the interplay of those genres in the Old Babylonian period. The chapter begins with an analysis of two groups of Old Babylonian medical incantations. It gives the sequential order of diseases enumerated in Old Babylonian incantations and their relation to lexical lists. The chapter explains the thematic correspondence between incantations against diseases and therapeutic texts. It discusses a new Old Babylonian medical text. P. B. Adamson has identified Kurārum disease as some kind of ringworm disease, caused, probably, by the fungus Trichophyton.

Keywords: fungus Trichophyton; Kurārum disease; magic lore; medical texts; Old Babylonian period



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