Dr. Valeria Zubieta Lupo

Project title: Concepts of the Hittite Healing Praxis.

Prof. Dr. Doris Prechel, Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dietrich Fischer

Dissertation project:

The Hittites were an Anatolian civilization of the 2nd millennium B.C. and one of the greatest powers of the Ancient Near East. Their capital Ḫattuša – present-day Boğazköy in Turkey – was the starting point for an expansion throughout Anatolia, Syria and Palestine. The Hittite empire collapsed shortly after 1200 B.C. This dissertation project focuses on concepts of Hittite healing praxis. Since ​​extended studies of this issue are still lacking in Hittitology, the notified research will fill this gap.

Hittite sources, cuneiform tablets from the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C., reflect, at least superficially, a traditional folk medicine. This is based on the knowledge of herbal drugs and magical methods, grounded on the belief that diseases were caused by demons, deities or witchcraft, which explains the essential meaning of "magic" used in Hittite medicine.

The most important data can be found in the so-called medical texts, medical omens, magical ritual texts, letters and other literary sources of Hittite archives. At the same time, Hittite healing praxis was influenced by imported medical texts and doctors from Egypt and Mesopotamia. Therefore, relevant data coming from foreign sources (extra-Anatolia) will be taken into account as well.

In order to receive a complete picture of medical and socio-cultural concepts of disease and ill people in the Hittite society, the following aspects should be clarified:

  • concepts of disease
  • lexicography and semantics of terms related to healing praxis
  • practitioners of Hittite medicine
  • relationship between Hittite medicine and the magical world
  • development of the Hittite healing Praxis and growing influences of different cultures
  • social status of ill and disabled people in the Hittite Society

The investigation of these questions will reveal important and new perspectives on the Hittite Materia Medica. It could also provide further insights into the social dynamics like folk beliefs and knowledge in relation to health, disease, disability, and therapeutic treatment.

The dissertation project was completed in April 2017.

The work was published as Zubieta Lupo, V., Konzepte hethitischer Heilpraktik, 2022.