Saturday, 30 October 2010

Assyrian Text Describing Epileptic Symptoms (c. 650 BC)

Mesopotamian peoples were particularly prone to seeing the hands of god in everything in life.
Disease was typically seen as both a judgement & a punishment upon the person.
This Assyrian text describes epileptic symptoms (c. 650 BC) with a demonic slant:
If at the time of his possession, while he is sitting down, his left eye moves to the side, a lip puckers, saliva flows from his mouth, and his hand, leg and trunk on the left side jerk like a slaughtered sheep, it is migtu. If at the time of possession his mind is awake, the demon can be driven out; if at the time of his possession his mind is not so aware, the demon cannot be driven out.
Roy Porter (1997). The Greatest Benefit To Mankind. A Medical History Of Humanity From Antiquity To The Present. Fontana Press. London

Image: Assyrian Relief from Mary Harrsch on flickr (cc)

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