Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature
Abraham Winitzer, Notre Dame University
In Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature: Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics, Abraham Winitzer provides a detailed study of the Akkadian Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1600 BC) omen collections stemming from extispicy, the most significant Mesopotamian divination technique for most of that civilization’s history. Paying close attention to these texts’ organizational structure, Winitzer details the mechanics responsible for their origins and development, and highlights key characteristics of a conceptual framework that helped reconfigure Mesopotamian divination into a literature in line with significant, new forms of literary expression from the same time. This literature, Winitzer concludes, represents an early form of scientific reasoning that began to appreciate the centrality of texts and textual interpretation in this civilization’s production, organization, and conception of knowledge.