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Types Of Ritual Failure And Mistakes In Ritual In Cuneiform Sources

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Chapter Summary

The field of cuneiform studies can offer various and fascinating textual sources for the topic of ritual failure and mistakes in ritual. Particularly interesting are hundreds of the letters from Assyrian and Babylonian scholars and ritual experts to the Assyrian Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal unearthed at Nineveh, the last Assyrian royal residence. The techniques of ritual and divination were transmitted to man by the gods themselves. This idea, which can be found in exorcistic and healing rituals, also lies behind regular cultic rites performed daily in the gods' sanctuaries. When the gods created the universe, they themselves built their temples as their divine domiciles of eternal pleasure. Ritual could never work against the will of the gods or even force the gods to an action desired by the ritual's human participants. Ritual failure could be coped with-at least up to a certain degree regarding mistakes made by human participants.

Keywords: Assyrian royal residence; Babylonian scholars; cuneiform sources; God; Nineveh; ritual failure



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