The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut néerlandais du Proche-Orient

01 Dec 17:00

Veenhof Lecture: Living in a precarious world

Daniel Schwemer

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden: Taffeh Hall

Living in a precarious world: Magical rituals from ancient Mesopotamia

Labeled magical texts by modern research, cuneiform tablets preserving instructions for the performance of apotropaic (and, sometimes, aggressive) rituals form one of the most extensive and varied learned traditions known from the libraries of Babylonian and Assyrian scholars. Reconstructed from numerous fragments, these texts afford a unique insight into ritual strategies for coping with the fundamental uncertainties of life in pre-modern societies.

Daniel Schwemer will give a brief overview of Mesopotamian magic and discuss in more detail an elaborate ritual for the protection of a house and its inhabitants. His talk will explore how the ritual expert of the Bīt mēseri ritual was able to assuage his patients’ fears and overcome their isolation by introducing them to an invisible mythical-ritual world full of powerful allies.

Daniel Schwemer is Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of Würzburg.


Illustration: Assyrian amulet showing a lulal and an ugallu, a pair of monsters popular for apotropaeic depictions in the 7th century BCE. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden A 1932/7.131.


Practical information

The Veenhof Lecture 2023 will be held as a hybrid event. Please join us!


Annual Veenhof Lecture

The Veenhof Lecture is organized every November by the Netherlands Institute for the Near East in cooperation with the National Museum of Antiquities. Named after Prof. K.R. Veenhof and honouring his contributions to Assyriology, the annual lecture is aimed at colleagues and students, as well as a broader public. The speaker is an internationally renowned scholar. All are welcome to attend the lecture.

Jaarlijkse Veenhof-lezing

De Veenhof-lezing werd in mei 2002 in het leven geroepen, naar aanleiding van het afscheid van professor Klaas Veenhof als hoogleraar talen en geschiedenis van Babylonië en Assyrië aan de Universiteit Leiden. De lezing wordt jaarlijks georganiseerd door het NINO i.s.m. het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. Alle geïnteresseerden zijn van harte uitgenodigd.

Veenhof-lezing 2023

Spreker: prof. Daniel Schwemer, hoogleraar Oude Nabije Oosten-studies aan de Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg.