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The Prophet’s šārtum u sissiktum “Hair and Hem” and the Mantic Context of Prophetic Oracles at Mari 1

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Abstract In this article I consider the strengths and weaknesses of theories regarding the mention of prophets’ šārtum u sissiktum (hair and hem) in prophetic texts from Mari. I suggest that royal correspondents sent along the prophets’ šārtum u sissiktum because they were part of the material locus of divine revelation, functioning as proxy omens. As such, they offered royal diviners an efficient and material means of cross-checking prophetic omens through extispicy-derived omens in order to discern divine directives for the security and success of the kingdom. Moreover, the šārtum u sissiktum constituted two data points within a larger divinatory system that discerned the divine will primarily through material and observable media.

Affiliations: 1: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Theologische Fakultät Platz der Göttinger Sieben 2, D-37073 Göttingen


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