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With horns and tail, found the first ancient effigy of the demon of epilepsy

With horns and tail, found the first ancient effigy of the demon of epilepsy

Studying the ancient cuneiform tablets with records stored in the Berlin Museum, Assyriology Troels Punk Arbell (Troels Pank Arbll) from the University of Copenhagen discovered a very curious instance. One of the signs of age 2700 years ago he noticed the image of a horned creature with a tail and a snake tongue.

according to the researcher, on a clay tablet from ancient Iraq contained the text in one of the oldest Semitic languages – Akkadian.

According to the text displayed on the sign the creature was a demon of epilepsy – disease that the Assyrians and Babylonians was called “Bennu” (Bennu).

“We have long known that the Assyrians and Babylonians considered the disease as a phenomenon are caused by gods, demons or witchcraft. And healers were responsible for the expulsion of these supernatural forces and medical symptoms that they caused, medicines, rituals or spells. But this is the first case when we managed to link one of the very rare illustrations of demons in medical texts with a specific health condition – epilepsy,” says the press release of the University of Arbell.

the Scientist noted that images of supernatural forces is extremely rare in cuneiform tablets describing magical and medical treatment.

“When [on such signs] there is a pattern, it usually appears that healers used in their rituals, and not the demon. But, there is depicted the demon of epilepsy as a healer who wrote the text must have imagined it,” adds Abell.

the Image was found on a clay tablet by the age of 2,700 years.Photo Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Vorderasiatisches Museum/Troels Pank Arbll.

according to cuneiform texts, the disease “Bennu” feared in ancient Iraq. Its symptoms are considered seizures, loss of consciousness and sanity, as well as a peculiar behavior: for example, there are descriptions of cases, when patients were bleating like goats.

the text with which he worked Arbell, it is said that the demon of epilepsy acted “on behalf” of sin, the moon-God in Sumerian-Akkadian mythology. The Assyrians and Babylonians believed that there is a connection between the moon, epilepsy and insanity.

In the next Millennium the idea spread to other regions, including the Western world. Its echoes can still be found in some cultures. For example, in modern English the word lunacy means “insanity, madness”.

“perspectives on diseases, diagnoses and treatments of early civilizations had a considerable influence on later ideas about the disease, even in recent history,” says Arbell.

Scientific article with a more detailed description of his discoveries are presented in the publication Journal des Mdecines Cuniformes.

Note that in many cultures, epilepsy has long been considered “sacred” disease. And patients could take as divinely inspired and religious, and possessed by a demon or unclean spirit. (By the way, according to some researchers, this diagnosis could put the famous Jeanne d’arc.)

Today, of course, everything is different. The term epilepsy in medicine is designated a chronic neurological disorder that manifests itself in the predisposition of the organism to the sudden appearance of convulsions.

by the Way, earlier Troels Punk Arbell known for his analysis of the texts of this “exorcist”. In all the catalogues of the preserved cuneiform they were on the category “magic”, but their content was much more interesting. The Authors “Conduct.Science” (nauka.vesti.ru) told in detail about how the re-creation of “diary of an Assyrian doctor” has become a breakthrough in understanding the life and experience of ancient healer.

Recall and other interesting studies that shed light on the development of medicine. For example, it became clear that the Incas did craniotomy better doctors during the Civil war in the United States. And ancient feces confirmed the diagnosis of Hippocrates.

Text: To.Science

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