Im Herbstsemester 2021 dürfen wir zwei Gastdozenten am ZAZH begrüssen: 

Prof. Dr. Merle Eisenberg (Oklahoma State University, Departement of History) und Prof. Mark Geller (University College London, Jewish Chronicle Professor of Jewish Studies).

ZAZH-Gastdozentur Prof. Dr. Merle Eisenberg

Prof. Dr. Merle Eisenberg bietet im Herbstsemester 2021 die Lehrveranstaltung Plagues and Pandemics from Thucydides to Covid-19 (Seminar Altertumswissenschaften) an.


This course examines diseases and pandemics from the ancient world to today. It will explore both significant pandemics, such as the Black Death, and how they did (or did not) change states, societies, and communities. We will also explore how historians, scientists, and archaeologists have investigated these diseases through various types of evidence including written sources, ancient DNA, archaeology, and through retrospective diagnoses. We will consider how different disciplines have worked together or, at times, separately and how these choices of collaboration have shaped our understanding of historical diseases. We will also explore the state's public health role and its effect (or lack thereof) on individuals and local communities.


Mo., 20.09.2021, 16:15 - 18:00

Mo., 27.09.2021, 16:15 - 18:00

Mo., 04.10.2021, 16:15 - 18:00

Mo., 11.10.2021 16:15 - 18:00

Mo., 18.10.2021 16:15 - 18:00

Mo., 25.10.2021 16:15 - 18:00

Mo., 01.11.2021 16:15 - 18:00


Fr., 19.11.2021, 14:00 - 18:00

Sa., 20.10.2021, 10:00 - 18:00


Am 18. November 2021 hält Merle Eisenberg eine ZAZH-Lecture zu „Pandemics as Historical Actors from the Ancient World to Covid-19“.



ZAZH-Gastdozentur Prof. Dr. Mark Geller

Prof. Dr. Mark Geller bietet gemeinsam mit Prof. Dr. Konrad Schmid die Lehrveranstaltung Seuchen im Alten Orient und im Alten Testamentan. Er wird in diesem Rahmen am 29. und 30. Oktober einen Workshop zum Thema „The Moral Dimensions of Treating Contamination vs. Contagion in Ancient Mesopotamia" geben.


Inhalt der Lehrveranstaltung:

I. Seuchen als Interpretationstreiber in der Neuzeit, im Mittelalter und in der Antike

II. Die Pestgebete Murschilis

III. Die Plagen Ägyptens (Exodus 7-11)

IV. Die Plage nach Davids Volkszählung (2. Samuel 24/1. Chronik 21) V. Hiobs Krankheit (Hiob 1-2)

VI. Workshop: The Moral Dimensions of Treating Contamination vs. Contagion in Ancient Mesopotamia



Do., 30.09.2021, 16:15 - 18:00

Do., 07.10.2021, 16:15 - 18:00

Do., 14.10.202116:15 - 18:00


Fr., 29.10.2021, 14:00 - 18:00

Sa., 30.10.2021, 10:00 - 18:00

Die Unterrichtsmaterialien werden in der Veranstaltung zur Verfügung gestellt. Originalsprachliche Texte aus dem Alten Orient werden auch in deutscher oder englischer Übersetzung zugänglich gemacht.


The Moral Dimensions of Treating Contamination vs. Contagion in  Ancient Mesopotamia

When Mesopotamian physicians or diagnostic priests labelled a disease vector as a 'demon', the modern 'microbe' analogy often turns out to be inaccurate, since a virus is not a living organism but a particle comprising protein molecules and its own genetic materials.  Moreover, it is important to avoid the common error of assuming that ancients had a notion of 'contagion', which is a modern idea from the 19th century.   Mesopotamia physicians did, however, have the idea of 'contamination', which they referred to as either 'unclean' or 'unholy', meaning that all physical contact was to be avoided.  Ironically, an ancient diagnosis of disease as 'contamination' often comes closer to how one needs to deal with the threat of a virus: rituals for washing, bathing, and general attention to hygiene, in addition to 'social distancing'. The use of quarantine was recommended in a recently published cuneiform tablet from the British Museum, from about 500 BCE, recommending assigning the patient with fever to separate quarters for at least three days, where he was wrapped in wool and sat in the dark, with a sign on the door indicating that he was ill. Drugs were applied, but what kinds of drugs? And how were causes of disease assessed in relation to a patient's habits and conduct:  was the patient responsible in some measure for his or her illness? These questions will be addressed in our discussion.  

Bibliographie für den Workshop:

1). I. L. Finkel  'Amulets Against Fever,' in Mesopotamian Medicine and Magic, Studies in Honor of Markham J. Geller, ed. S. Panayotov and L. Vacín (Berlin, 2018), 232-271. 

2). A. Bácskay, Therapeutic Prescriptions against Fever in Ancient Mesopotamia (Münster, 2018) 

3) V. Nutton, 'Did the Greeks Have a Word for It? Contagion and Contagion Theory in Classical Antiquity', in ContagionPerspectives from Pre-Modern Societies, ed. L. Conrad and D. Wujastik (Aldershot, 2000), 136-162. 

4) E. Schmidtchen, The Edition of Esagil-kīn-apli's Catalogue of the Series Sakikkû (SA.GIG) and Alamdimmû, in U. Steinert, Assyrian and Babylonian Scholarly Text Catalogues BAM 9 (Berlin, 2018), 313-333. 

5) D. Tulodziecki, 'Shattering the Myth of Semmelweis,' Philosophy of Science 80 / 5, 1065-1075




Mark Gellers ZAZH-Lecture „Who controls the narrative? ‘Religion’ vs ’Science' in Babylonian medicine“ findet am 28. Oktober 2021 um 18:15 Uhr statt.




s. auch die vergangenen Veranstaltungen im Archiv