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Yale University Library News, Events and Exhibits: Magic in Mesopotamia Magic in Mesopotamia

An intriguing exhibit highlighting magical artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia is currently on display in the nave area of Sterling Memorial Library.

For the ancient Mesopotamians, the world was filled with threats and dangers, which could often be warded off or counteracted by magic. Many magic spells and rituals have come down to us, primarily written in Sumerian and Akkadian, as well as numerous inscribed magical objects, including amulets, wall-hanging charms, and bowls to bury under the threshold.

Magicians were highly respected individuals, on a level with physicians and diviners. They were called upon by people from all levels of society to cure illnesses, to help with love troubles, to drive away demons, and to help a person gain respect and promotion. Sorcery or black magic was also well known, where magic was used for harmful or evil purposes. The Mesopotamians feared a cruel demoness, who was believed to commit evil acts out of pure malice, preying especially on unborn and newborn children.

The exhibit provides a representative selection of texts and objects drawn from the Yale Babylonian Collection, housed in Sterling Memorial Library. The material will remain on view until 28th April 2006. For further information, contact Benjamin R. Foster at: or Karen Foster at:

Location: SML

Start Date: 01/15/2006


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Page Last Updated: 4/18/2014
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