Sheep and Sky: Systems of Divinatory Interpretation

Ulla Susanne Koch

in The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199557301
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Sheep and Sky: Systems of Divinatory Interpretation


This article examines the systems of divinatory interpretation in ancient Mesopotamia. Based on the sustained transmission of the tradition as well as the sheer amount of textual evidence, this article suggests that divination must have played an important role in the second and first millennium cuneiform cultures of Babylonia and Assyria. It describes two of the major divinatory disciplines: extispicy and omen astrology as practised at the Neo-Assyrian court in the second quarter of the first millennium bc.

Keywords: divinatory interpretation; ancient Mesopotamia; textual evidence; divination; cuneiform cultures; Babylonia; Assyria; extispicy; omen astrology

Article.  11052 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Philosophy

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